The Gates Foundation has played a leading and substantial role in convening and building a dedicated community around the cause of eliminating malaria. The Foundation attributes this achievement to partnerships with public and private entities. The Foundation focuses on partnerships in three primary areas: (1) funding, (2) advocacy and education, and (3) implementation of programs and initiatives. The Foundation also describes itself as acting as a catalyst for challenging governments, including the U.S. government, to take action. Motivated by this philosophy, the Gates Foundation has striven to be a complementary partner with a variety of public and private agencies. Its partnerships include:
- PATH. The largest recipient of Gates funds, PATH illustrates how the Gates Foundation uses its funds to build on and advance the work of existing organizations. PATH has received more than $380 million, about 36 percent of the Foundations total commitments for malaria projects. PATH has furthered the goal of eradicating malaria through two initiatives in particular:
- Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI). As part of PATH, the Gates Foundation, in partnership with Exxon Mobil Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and USAID, is supporting MVI, an effort to advance malaria vaccine development and accessibility. In 2008, the Gates Foundation awarded $168 million to MVI for the development of an effective malaria vaccine.
- Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa (MACEPA). As a more short-term solution to malaria, MACEPA helps distribute low-tech solutions such as treated bed nets, spraying homes to rid them of mosquitoes, and stocking hospitals with existing malaria medicines. In addition to the Gates Foundation, this collaborative effort to control malaria includes a variety of public and private agencies such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Government of Zambia, U.S. Presidents Malaria Initiative, Roll Back Malaria Partnership, United Nations Childrens Fund, USAID, and the World Health Organization, among others.
- Roll Back Malaria. Roll Back Malaria, with support from the Gates Foundation, has been instrumental in creating partnerships with several European governments to establish the International Finance Facility for Immunizations that allows for quick and innovative ways of financing resources for malaria. Roll Back Malaria has also developed a Global Malaria Action Plan to cultivate partnerships and increase awareness of malaria.
- Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) Alliance. The Gates Foundation is a founding partner and primary funder of the GAVI Alliance. To date, Gates has committed more than $1.5 billion to the Alliance to improve access to existing vaccines, drugs, and other resources to fight poverty-related diseases and to support additional research to develop affordable and accessible treatments. Other partners involved with GAVI include government organizations, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the World Bank.
- Presidents Malaria Initiative (PMI). Partnerships between the Gates Foundation and the U.S. government have been formed primarily through the PMI and the Global Fund. According to a respondent from the Foundation, the PMI has served a seminal role in leveraging resources and encouraging partnerships to combat malaria. To support work carried out by the PMI, in March 2008 the Gates Foundation awarded a $9.3 million research grant to the National Institutes of Health to study and develop methods to diagnose and treat iron deficiency and to better understand its interaction with malaria and other infectious diseases.
A respondent from the Gates Foundation offered four suggestions to foster collaborative public-private partnerships:
- Put into place strong leaders who are able to work effectively across different bureaucracies, leadership structures, and organizational languages. Such leaders need to be supported by flexible staff who can efficiently implement the vision set forth by the collaborative.
- Find ways to effectively coordinate funding to reduce costs and more quickly unlock fiscal resources.
- Obtain market commitments from universities and pharmaceutical companies to invest in drugs that are needed in poor countries but are too expensive for those countries to purchase.
- Create formal senior positions within the U.S. government focused on collaboration and communication among government agencies. He suggested the PMI serves as a model for improving communication and coordination between public and private agencies.