Bridging the gaps in malaria R&D: An analysis of funding—from basic research and product development to research for implementation

19 Jun 2018

Report highlights a ‘second valley of death’ that threatens to keep developed malaria products from reaching those most in need

This new report combines original research with regularly reported data on funding for basic research and product development. It is the first time a report has quantified the funds not only devoted to initial product development but to the additional research to improve access to those prevention or treatment products. The research for implementation included implementation research, operational research, and health systems research.

Average annual funding for basic research and product development (as distinct from research for implementation) falls short of the need. 

This analysis shows that malaria research and development does not need an endless blank check, but rather, requires targeted funding to develop customizable toolboxes designed to meet the unique needs of each country and region.

The stalled progress against malaria reminds the world of the need to stay on course. Thus, for funders, policymakers, product developers, and other malaria stakeholders, three overarching recommendations emerge from the research behind this report:
1. Improve coordination across intervention areas (from basic through implementation research)
Product developers must work together to ensure that next-generation interventions will fit together seamlessly. Although this is already happening periodically, a sustained and ongoing effort is needed to ensure that scarce resources have maximum impact.
2. Develop more innovative funding approaches
There is little or no high-income market for the malaria interventions needed in endemic regions and the regions most affected are struggling with the systems required to implement, let alone monitor, them. While the maturity of the current product pipeline is an emerging success story, that success could be limited by the absence of sufficient resources to optimize the impact of new tools. New types and approaches of funding mechanisms and incentives are clearly needed.
3. Continue existing tracking of funding flows and strengthen systems to address data gaps
Tracking efforts must be sustained for basic research and product development, and data gaps addressed— particularly for research for implementation. The findings in this pilot survey provide only a partial picture and do not address the evolving nature of malaria and tools required. Key stakeholders, including those who have experience tracking resource flows and conducting research, should work together—and, in particular— on research for implementation.
The report was developed by PATH, TDR, and Malaria No More UK, with input from WHO’s Global Malaria Programme (WHO/GMP), the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), and the International Vector Control Consortium (IVCC). Policy Cures Research provided data on financial resource flows and also conducted the pilot survey to derive an initial estimate of investments in research for implementation.