The Financialisation of Malaria in Africa: Burkina Faso, rogue capital & GM/gene drive mosquitoes

S. Mentz-Lagrange and S. Swanepoel,  African Centre for Biodiversity,  2022.

This paper seeks to understand the financialisation of malaria as a vehicle for rogue capital in a context of a weakened state (through capture, corruption and coups) and the power that limits effective interventions. It shows how malaria, along with other diseases, is increasingly financialised – financial markets, institutions, actors and motives play a pivotal role in disease response. Country and donor funds are invested into research and development non-profit organisations, for example, that partner with market actors (such as pharmaceutical companies) to bring the product to market. Patents are sought and royalties procured from the sale of the product to country governments. These royalties are then accumulated by the research and development company, using vehicles such as endowment funds, for example. It show cases Burkina Faso as a real-world example of how rogue capital can enter a country and experiment with patented products, with impunity and no fear of accountability. It also illustrates how both historical and modern factors create conducive conditions for philanthrocapitalists such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the companies they fund, to exploit Africa as a living laboratory. The outcomes of risky experimental research such as genetically modified (GM) and gene drive mosquitoes is not yet known. What is known is that it is Africans who bear the consequences – not the owners of the technologies foisted on the continent.

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