The Global Health Community Loses Anti-Malaria Leader

A malaria-free world was the goal pursued by Alan Magill, director of the Malaria Programme at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


The ISGlobal community is deeply saddened by the death of Alan Magill, director of the Malaria Programme at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), who was above all a great friend and a valuable colleague in the effort to eradicate malaria from the world.

After a brilliant career as a doctor and researcher in the US military, where he specialised in the development of new drugs, Magill joined BMGF three years ago in pursuit of a goal he himself defined in four words "a malaria-free world". Within a very short time, he became an undisputed leader in the difficult art of convincing others to join him in the task of working towards the goal of malaria eradication.

Those of us who worked closely with him will remember his unerring ability to both identify the real challenges faced by malaria eradication and to define clear strategies for overcoming them and furthering this goal. Without ever making light of the difficulty of the task ahead or the technical and scientific rigour it demanded, Magill transmitted enormous optimism to all those he worked with, from the staff of remote health centres in malaria-endemic countries, to scientists working at the highest level and politicians from all over the world as well as representatives of financial bodies and the chemical and pharmaceutical industry.

Here in ISGlobal, he will be especially remembered for his support of our key malaria projects, including, among many others, the programme for the elimination of malaria in southern Mozambique (in association with the "la Caixa" Foundation) and the Malaria Eradication Scientific Alliance . His regular contribution, as a teacher, will also be sorely missed on the Science of Eradication: Malaria course, which we organise in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

Convinced as he was that working to improve global health was not only a moral imperative but also vital for international security, Magill was also involved in the fight against other parasitic diseases, as well as against influenza and, more recently, the Ebola virus. He also served as President of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

One of the greatest legacies we have received from Alan Magill is his conviction that malaria will only be eradicated through the concerted effort of many actors, and we will seek to honour his memory by devoting our best efforts to achieving the goal he held dear.