Malaria No More UK has released a new report titled ‘The Malaria Dividend’ that indicates that African countries could experience a GDP rise of $127 billion dollars if the UN target to cut malaria by 90% from 2015 levels by 2030 is met.

This represents an average boost of nearly $16bn per year to African economies, which adds up to more than 10% of what all countries on the continent spend on healthcare in a year.

The research also showed that reaching this goal could generate an additional $31bn in exports to some of the worst affected, malaria endemic countries in Africa.

Countries like Kenya and Angola could see a GDP increase of about $9bn between 2023-2030, and for Nigeria this would amount to almost $35bn, largely due to the size of their economies and high prevalence of malaria.

“Increasing investments towards ending malaria will save millions of lives and grow African economies by boosting trade and tourism. This will have knock-on-benefits for G7 countries and benefit trade between African countries,” says Sherwin Charles, CEO of Goodbye Malaria.

This economic dividend could be partly used to further strengthen the health sector through enhanced diagnostic capacity, healthcare workforce and stronger primary healthcare infrastructure.

The report signals that the benefits of driving down malaria are widespread and would make the world a safer and more prosperous place for everyone.

These figures provide further rationale for G7 countries, as key supporters of interventions to drive down malaria, to continue to invest in ending the disease. Reaching the UN SDG goal on malaria could generate an additional $4bn in exports for G7 countries – almost $1.5bn for the US and more than $450m for the UK.

Dr Astrid Bonfield, CEO of Malaria No More UK, says, “the rise in global trade with African countries also allows other nations to keep the disease at bay by sustaining malaria research and development, funding and continuing to invest in life sciences more widely to tackle other infectious diseases.”

Malaria currently claims the lives of over 600,000 people a year, and The World Health Organisation estimates that malaria interventions have contributed to the prevention of 2 billion cases and nearly 12 million deaths between 2000 to 2022.

Whilst children represent around three quarters of global malaria deaths, infections also impact working age people and can constrain economic growth through employee absenteeism, diminished income, reduced income tax and additional healthcare costs.

Children suffering from malaria can also experience frequent absences from school, hindering their educational progress and eventual economic contribution, as well as creating an additional burden on healthcare services and for the parents caring for them.

Charles stresses that “malaria is a preventable and treatable disease that needlessly costs lives and holds back social and economic progress in endemic countries.”

This is why he believes, “G7 nations and malaria endemic countries should work hand-in-hand to drive greater investment in tackling malaria through their own domestic funding and through a fully funded GAVI and Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.”

The report comes ahead of the G7 Summit hosted in Italy on 13-15 June. Under her leadership, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has made partnerships that stimulate economic growth in Africa a priority, including investments in the continent’s health systems.

The G7 has helped establish global health initiatives such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which plays a vital role in increasing access to vaccines, and The Global Fund, which has long been critical to increasing access to tools and treatments to combat malaria.

For the first time, Gavi will have two effective malaria vaccinations available for its next investment case due to launch on 20 June.

When accompanied by tools such as next-generation bed nets, these vaccines will play an important role in revitalising the fight to end malaria, which has stalled in recent years.

Even though upfront costs seem substantial, the reality is that the benefits of reaching our goals far outweigh the costs. With the right investment, appropriate malaria control strategies can be implemented worldwide to boost economies and save lives.

Case study: George Otieno

George Otieno is a father, fisherman and community leader from a fishing village on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kisumu county, Kenya. He knows the impact of malaria firsthand: “Malaria is always affecting my family, year in year out. Even the fishing community… when you’re sick with malaria you’re not going to work, you’re not going to fish – it’s very dangerous to the fishing community.”

Otieno says, “it’s important to advocate to end malaria so it can give us the energy to build our economy…if you’re healthy, the revenue we collect will go up because fisherman and crews are working, mothers are working and those doing related trading activities are also working.”

“With zero malaria our children will go to school, our fishermen will go to work, our farmers will go to the farm and those who are trading can do their business,” he concludes.