Billionaire philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates urged the international community Wednesday to seize on a "historic opportunity" to eradicate malaria around the world.
The founders of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said an influx of new research, funds and energy in the public and private sectors to combat malaria has made them optimistic that their ambitious, long-term goal can be met.
"Bill and I believe that these advances in science and medicine, your promising research, and the rising concern of people around the world represent an historic opportunity not just to treat malaria or to control it -- but to chart a long-term course to eradicate it," Melinda Gates told a gathering of international scientists and policymakers in Seattle, Washington
Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, said a "rush of new actors," including the World Bank, the Global Fund for AIDS, TB, and Malaria, and US President George W. Bush have helped galvanize the battle against the mosquito-borne disease.
The new initiatives have committed 3.6 billion dollars to control malaria, Gates said.
"Today, I want to make the case that we have a real chance to build the partnerships, generate the political will, and develop the scientific breakthroughs we need to end this disease," he said.
"We're not done, and we will not stop working, until malaria is eradicated," he said.
Bill Gates also called on US politicians running in the 2008 presidential campaign to keep Bush's 1.2 billion-dollar malaria initiative alive.
"If the world is ultimately going to eradicate malaria, then the record funding that began with this president must not end with this presidency," Gates said in his prepared remarks.
"Melinda and I say to every US presidential candidate: if you win this office, you will inherit a record commitment to fighting malaria," he said.
"The world needs you to sustain it and enhance it. Malaria will never be eradicated without the full support of the president of the United States."