Jaqueline M. Applegate

Bayer is #Readytobeatmalaria

Today is World Malaria Day, a chance to shine a spotlight on the global effort to control malaria and an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained commitment for malaria prevention and control.

This year the slogan #readytobeatmalaria is particularly relevant as last week the Malaria Summit in London saw 14 Heads of State and Government, Bill Gates, scientists and private sector and international organizations made commitments of over £2.9bn ($4.1bn) to fight the disease. The summit comes at an opportune time as impressive progress towards ending the disease has stalled.

I had the honour and privilege to attend the event representing Bayer, joining with our industry partners to pledge our ongoing support to the research, development and supply of innovative vector control solutions, to help eradicate malaria by 2040.

Almost 80% of malaria cases averted since 2000 have been thanks to vector control solutions.

The industry collaboration, under the banner Zero by 40, is coordinated by the Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC) and supported by its funders including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The malaria summit was an amazing experience. I came away with my head full of images, ideas, quotes from incredible and inspiring people, all united behind one goal: to beat malaria.

Jaqueline M. Applegate
Jaqueline M. Applegate
Dr. Jaqueline M. Applegate,
Member of Crop Science Executive Committee & President of Environmental Science Worldwide

Four ideas have remained at the forefront of my mind. They are also ideas and values that are the very essence of Bayer;

  1. Malaria is inherently linked to the mission of leading companies in agriculture to use their expertise to ensure food supply for a growing world population. Malaria is the scourge of many smallholder farming communities across the world, particularly in Africa. Simply put, people suffering from malaria cannot tend to their crops causing hunger and poverty. And as we know diseases flourish in poor communities. In this vicious circle Malaria might just be the weakest link.
  2. The importance of collaboration: Only if we work together, across the public and private sectors, industries, countries and at all levels of the value chain from research to regulatory to distribution to education, we will be successful in combatting this disease which is too global, complex and, above all, too urgent for any of us to tackle alone.
  3. The importance of advances in science, technology and data: Whether the discussions were about improving surveillance, innovation needed in product - be it in vector control, diagnosis, treatments, vaccines or newer technologies such a gene drive, the call to action always underlined the essential role of research in biology, chemistry, technology, IT, mathematics.
  4. The importance of living and working with purpose: Bayer’s products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life and it is this “Better Life purpose” that motivates us. In Bill Gates’ conclusion he said “Since I started my second career almost 20 years ago, I've seen a lot more suffering than I ever planned on. It's haunting. It's also motivating. It reminds me exactly why the work we're doing together is so important and so urgent.”

In my speech I hope I was able to underline the importance of these four ideas and reiterate how for Bayer it is both an honor and a responsibility to be a part of this:

“Together we have beaten malaria” Wouldn’t it be an extraordinary to be able to say those words within a generation?”

Today we have signed a declaration, and in doing so, we have committed to the shared mission of eradicating the disease by 2040.

But malaria is a fundamental humanitarian challenge and this mission is bold and ambitious.

However I am confident: Great things can be accomplished when dedicated leaders untie beyond a common goal and commit to really work together to make a difference. And we know that the challenge to eradicate malaria is far too complex, immense, and widespread for one entity alone.

Much progress has been made since 2000 thanks to the global efforts of the public and private companies here today. However, there are still 1.1 billion people at high risk in 91 endemic countries with 91 percent of deaths occurring in Africa and 70 percent are children under 5 years old… unbelievable, unacceptable but true.

The declaration signed today by the world’s leading companies in agriculture to support the research, development and supply of innovative vector control products reaffirms the willingness to collaborate, mobilize and pool our diverse know-how, ability and resources to fight malaria on all fronts.

But these interventions face emerging challenges, be it growing resistance to the limited number of insecticides available, reliance on global funding, changing demographics or the simple fact that malaria is predominately a rural disease.

That fact alone leads to it being a major threat to agricultural systems in developing countries where it severely affects small holder farming communities. 500 million smallholders drive 80% of local food production. Our investment in sustainable malaria prevention is a requirement therefore for sustainable agricultural systems. We are fighting the vector, to fight the disease, to fight hunger and ultimately fight poverty.

In doing so, we can lift the $12 billion economic burden on Africa and allow children to grow up healthy with the potential to become leaders like ourselves and who may, one day, look back at this malaria summit and say “They did beat malaria by 2040. What can we now do for future generations?”

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