George Osborne has teamed up with Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft, in a bid to eradicate malaria.
The Chancellor is expected to announce on Sunday that the Government has agreed to fund a new £1bn scheme to tackle infectious tropical diseases.
The £1bn, from the foreign aid budget, will support research into new drugs targeting diseases with “epidemic potential” such as Ebola which ravaged West Africa last year.
The collaboration is part of a wider overhaul of the foreign aid budget set to be unveiled by the Chancellor in his Spending Review on Wednesday. He wants more spending on programmes which can be shown to benefit the UK – targeting diseases which threaten global pandemics.
Aid spending should also help to protect Britain’s national security by supporting failing states, Treasury sources said.
In a boost for the Chancellor, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has said it will be an official partner for the scheme.
While malaria deaths have fallen by a third since 2010, the Chancellor said the disease still posed a major threat: “I have always believed that our commitment to overseas aid is important to promote our national security and interests around the world.
“That includes the fight against malaria – something I’ve been committed to since 1997,” he said.
“A staggering one billion people are infected with malaria, and 500,000 children die from the parasite each year. The announcement of the £1bn Ross Fund is an important step to help tackle this global disease.”
Speaking in Seattle, Bill Gates, said: “We are proud to be partnering with the Chancellor, the British people, and leading research institutes and universities around the UK in this endeavour to end malaria and combat neglected tropical diseases and future pandemics.
“Britain has long been a world leader in the fight against global disease. Achieving the eradication of malaria and other poverty-related infectious diseases will be one of humanity’s greatest achievements. Today’s announcement of the Ross Fund will play a key role in reaching that goal.”