Gates Foundation, SA link to combat HIV, TB, malaria

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Tuesday announced multimillion-rand partnerships with South African institutions to develop new medicines and vaccines for HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.

The country has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world, with nearly six-million people infected, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids, or UNAids. There is also a high prevalence of co-infection with TB. However, TB on its own is second only to HIV as the greatest killer worldwide due to a single infectious agent, the World Health Organisation said.

It also noted that in 2010, there were about 219-million malaria cases, with an estimated 660 000 malaria death. Ninety percent of all malaria deaths occurred in the African region, most among children under five.

The foundation partnered on two multi-year programmes, one with the Medical Research Council's Strategic Health Innovation Partnerships (Ship) unit and the other with the University of Cape Town's Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3-D).

The council would receive R125-million over three years to lead and fund research aimed at developing Aids and TB vaccines, adding to the R130-million from the department of science and technology and R60-million from the department of health. "Ship's role will be to build on the scientific leadership of South African scientists in these diseases and establish, fund and manage research programmes on innovative products and approaches to prevent Aids and TB," the organisation said in a joint release.

H3-D would receive about R55-million over five years to "develop clinical drug candidates to address TB and malaria challenges", they said. The department of science and technology-funded Technology Agency has already allocated R50-million to the centre.

"South Africa has world-class researchers and the infrastructure necessary to develop the kinds of innovative health solutions needed to accelerate progress against TB, HIV, malaria and other infectious diseases," said president of the foundation's Global Health Programme Trevor Mundel. These partnerships "have enormous potential to tackle the tough challenges and support those most in need in South Africa and across the continent".

Population to double by 2050
H3-D founder and director Professor Kelly Chibale said that Africa's population is set to double by 2050. "Africa needs to start discovering and developing medicines for its own people," Chibale said.

This announcement dovetails the launch of the department of science and technology's bio-economy strategy last week.

The bio-economy strategy, which has taken more than seven years to develop, would focus on health, agriculture and industrial applications, and aims to facilitate the development and manufacture of biopharmaceuticals and vaccines, bio-fuels; improve and adapt crops and remedy industrial and municipal waste.

Ben Durham, chief director for bio-innovation in the department, said: "The strategy involves the development of products and services, not because it's a really interesting academic idea, but because there's a real-world need in government and industry fulfilling a market need."

"We are confident that the strategy we are launching today [Tuesday] will address the full value chain, going beyond the mere generation of new technologies to ensuring that technology development is informed by the needs of the country and the people, and that social and economic value is generated," Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom said.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


READ IT IN FULL: Ramaphosa’s address on the extension of...

This is the full address given by President Cyril Ramaphosa on April 9

Meet the doctor leading Africa’s fight to contain the coronavirus...

Dr Matshidiso Moeti’s father helped to eliminate smallpox. Now she’s leading Africa’s efforts against the coronavirus

Stella set to retain her perks

Communication minister will keep Cabinet perks during her two months of special leave

Covid-19 grounds Nigeria’s medical tourists

The country’s elites, including the president, travelled abroad for treatment but now they must use the country’s neglected health system

Press Releases

Rahima Moosa Hospital nursing college introduces no-touch facial recognition access system

The new system allows the hospital to enrol people’s faces immediately, using artificial intelligence, and integrates easily with existing access control infrastructure, including card readers and biometrics

Everyone’s talking about it. Even Kentucky

Earlier this year South African fried chicken fast-food chain, Chicken Licken®, launched a campaign for their wallet-friendly EasyBucks® meals, based on the idea of ‘Everyone’s talking about it.’

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world