Timeline: The long road to malaria eradication

ARUSHA, Tanzania (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The world’s richest couple, Bill and Melinda Gates, are lending their support to global plans to eliminate malaria, which is back on the world’s agenda after being abandoned as too ambitious in 1969.

The Gateses aim to eradicate malaria by 2040 by doubling funding over the next decade to support the roll out of new products to tackle rising drug resistance. They are also backing a push to create the world’s first vaccine against a parasite.

Here are some key dates in the drive to end malaria:

1947 - The National Malaria Eradication Program began in the United States. The disease caused widespread illness among soldiers training in the southern U.S. during World War Two.

Almost five million homes were sprayed with DDT insecticide and mosquito breeding sites were drained.

1951 - Malaria was eliminated in the United States.

1955 - The World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Global Malaria Eradication Program (GMEP).

Malaria was eliminated from more than two dozen countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia, mainly by spraying with DDT and the widespread use of the cheap and effective drug chloroquine.

Most of Africa was excluded due to logistical difficulties.

1969 - The WHO suspended GMEP due to drug and insecticide resistance, and funding shortages.

1975 - Europe was declared malaria free. The disease had been endemic in southern countries like Italy, Greece and Portugal.

1979 - Tunisia eliminated malaria.

1987 - The Mosquirix malaria vaccine candidate was created by scientists working in GlaxoSmithKline laboratories.

1990s - Malaria re-emerged in Europe in the Caucasus and the Central Asian republics, the Russian Federation and Turkey due to population movements and reduced prevention measures.

1998 - WHO launched the Roll Back Malaria initiative, leading to increased investment in cheap new drugs, tests and insecticide-treated bed nets.

2005 - The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative was set up with the aim of halving malaria-related deaths in 15 high-burden African countries.

2007 - Results of Phase II proof-of-concept clinical trials of Mosquirix in Mozambique showed it provided partial protection against malaria.

2009 - Mosquirix Phase III field trials began - Africa’s largest malaria vaccine trial to date - involving 15,000 infants and children in seven African countries.

2010 - Morocco eliminated malaria.

2011 - Trial data from Africa showed Mosquirix halved the number of malaria episodes in children aged five to 17 months.

2014 - A study in New England Journal of Medicine found widespread resistance to the world’s most effective antimalarial drug, artemisinin, across Southeast Asia, threatening global control efforts.

2015 - Mosquirix received a green light from European Union drug regulators who recommended it should be licensed for use.

2015 - Europe became the first region in the world to eradicate malaria.

2015 - The Millennium Development Goal on malaria - to halt and reverse its incidence - was met.

Global leaders set a Sustainable Development Goal of ending epidemic levels of malaria by 2030.

2016 - The WHO invited African countries to take part in a Mosquirix vaccine pilot involving up to 800,000 children aged five to nine months.

The study will assess the feasibility of giving four doses of the vaccine through existing health services.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Reuters, PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative.