The Gates Foundation engages in an intensive and collaborative process to formulate strategies for areas in which they plan to invest. When strategies are being developed, the Foundation co-chairs, Bill and Melinda Gates, work closely with the leadership teams to develop a long-range plan. The Foundation gathers data from as many sources as possible and engages experts and potential beneficiaries. Once the area has been established, the strategic planning team takes responsibility for ongoing planning, bringing in the co-chairs and leadership team when needed.
The Gates Foundation often involves a variety of partners, practitioners, and leaders in the strategy development process. Teams define the problem of interest as clearly as possible, then conduct research to understand what is being done to address the problem and by whom, and to identify any potential barriers to change. They routinely seek outside input through listening sessions with experts and those affected by the issue and consider short- and long-term solutions. In developing their role, the Foundation aims to identify where they can have the most impact. For malaria, they have allocated resources to expand the use of chemically treated mosquito nets (a short-term solution) and also provided substantial funding to develop a vaccine for malaria (a long-term solution). Once Foundation leadership agrees on overall strategy and tactics, focus area leaders recommend how much money should be allocated to an initiative. Strategies usually are put into place for three to five years.
In the case of malaria, the Gates Foundations short-term goal is to significantly reduce malaria deaths by 2015. Its long-term goal is to eradicate the disease. To achieve these goals, the Foundation has chosen to focus its efforts on:
- Developing malaria vaccines and other new prevention strategies
- Developing new drugs for treating malaria
- Developing improved methods for mosquito control
- Expanding access and funding for malaria control
- Increasing public awareness about malaria and advocating for effective research and control