Putting Malaria on the Map

As the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s agency for global health for eight years, Corkery Group Unlimited helped build the foundation’s reputation as an innovative, solution-oriented force for good. During this period, our work played a central role in transforming perceptions of malaria, from an intractable pandemic to a solvable problem.

Objective

Establish malaria as a top priority among international health and development policymakers; drive new action to prevent malaria deaths.

Approach

On behalf of the foundation, we planned and implemented a series of strategic communications activities targeting policymakers, opinion leaders, media and the engaged public. Our approach was to raise awareness of not only the continued toll of malaria among children (which had not received significant attention for many years), but also of the many cost-effective solutions available today and the promise of new research. By positioning malaria as a serious but solvable crisis, we laid the foundation for new investments and action.

Specific tactics included:

  • A high-profile leadership trip to malaria-endemic communities and research facilities in Mozambique, accompanied by reporters from many of the world’s leading media outlets.
  • Regular announcements that leveraged foundation malaria grants to draw attention to areas in need of greater donor investment, in close coordination with UN and NGO partners.
  • Communications planning and outreach to maximize the impact of the UN Malaria Summit in 2008, which brought together heads of state and government from around the world and firmly established malaria as a top health and development priority.
  • Media and opinion leader outreach to build awareness of the RTS, investigational malaria vaccine, collaborating closely with the Malaria Vaccine Initiative and GSK.
  • Scientific and advocacy communications for investigational malaria treatments, highlighting limitations of current therapies and the need for new, low-cost therapeutic options.

Outcome

The Gates Foundation’s malaria advocacy and communications efforts played a central role in elevating international awareness of the toll of malaria and driving new investment to prevent illness and death from the disease. This has led to a sharp decline in deaths from the disease. Between 2000 and 2015, malaria death rates fell by 60 percent globally among all age groups, and by 65 percent among children under 5.