Gates foundation to support Scientists in Malaria and TB fight

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Increased funding includes support for health innovations that could save millions more lives by 2030

African scientists have received US$7.2 million to find drugs that will help combat malaria and tuberculosis on the continent that’s the most afflicted by the infectious diseases.

More than half of that money from medical research charity LifeArc and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be used to find new treatments for the illnesses, some of the benefiting universities — Stellenbosch University, the University of Ghana and the University of Pretoria — said in a statement on Wednesday.

The funding of research teams in Africa comes as it struggles with an array of diseases that shorten lives, dampen productivity and hold back economic growth. About 600 000 people die every year on the continent from malaria while 400 000 succumb to tuberculosis.

“The grant is a major leap forward towards building a critical mass of scientists fighting these diseases,” Kelly Chibale, of the University of Cape Town, said in the statement.

Malaria in Africa mostly kills children under the age of five with the parasites that cause it are prone to mutations that make them drug resistant.

While TB is preventable and curable, existing treatments can take as long as two years to rid patients of the bacterial disease.

This funding comes after the Gates Foundation in October gave $40-million to fund mRNA research and manufacturing to help poorer countries expand their drug and vaccine supplies, bolstering plans for Africa to be more self-reliant.

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