The GiveWell Blog

How would a malaria vaccine affect charity?

What happens if a malaria vaccine becomes available – and is far more effective than medicine and perhaps insecticide-treated nets?

I hope that all malaria charities will transition, as smoothly as they can, to assisting with immunization programs. But I’m not sure.

Immunization-focused charities include the GAVI Alliance, the Measles Initiative and VillageReach. Malaria-focused charities are a different set entirely including Nothing But Nets and the Against Malaria Foundation. Are malaria charities going to be happy to direct their resources toward immunization charities, or will they end up duplicating their work so they can run things themselves?

One particular thing that worries me is the extent to which malaria charities have constructed brands, stories and even names around a specific approach to the problem (bednets). For example, see the Rick Reilly column that launched Nothing But Nets.

Is it possible that charities could overemphasize the wrong solution to their problem, for the sake of a pun?

I’d like to think it’s impossible. But as long as most donors give based on stories, not facts, I can’t be sure.


  • Robert Gasior on November 4, 2009 at 12:25 pm said:

    Holden, I think this is a very valid concern, espcially pertaining to organizations devoted to a very specific cause, such as malaria.

    If a vaccine for malaria does become available, there would be a need for the administration and organization of vaccinations. Since many of these organizations have established partnerships with communities, they would serve as the best liasion for the administration of vaccines.

    Of course, this would mean restructuring funding, their marketing plan, and personal. Thanks for sharing. Rob

  • James Edward Dillard on November 4, 2009 at 7:16 pm said:

    oh its definitely possible. i’ll even go as far as likely. for better or worse, people don’t get into this to maximize their social impact.

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