Vector-borne diseases account for 17 percent of the estimated global burden of infectious diseases. This includes not only malaria (the most deadly), but also dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and Chagas disease, as well as emerging arboviral diseases such as Zika and Chikungunya, all of them transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks, flies and other arthropods. Recent outbreaks, including Zika, have served as a stark reminder of the need to advance the global response to vector-borne disease to address these public health threats. Not only does improved vector control lead to significant public health gains across numerous diseases, it can also contribute to Sustainable Development Goals such as reduced poverty and inequality.
Vector-control tools are pivotal to the control and elimination of vector-borne diseases. Of the 663 million malaria cases averted in sub-Saharan Africa between 2001 and 2015, it has been estimated that nearly 80 percent were due to the use of Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLINs) and Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS). Despite the gains achieved through the use of cost-effective vector-control interventions, multiple factors threaten future progress. Critical among these are insecticide resistance; outdoor disease transmission and residual transmission whereby disease transmission persists despite good coverage with high-quality vector control interventions. Currently limited tools are available to address these challenges, and as such ensuring the development of effective new tools is a key priority, as is ensuring that new tools reach the market as soon as possible and are accompanied by evidence-based policy recommendations and operational guidance.
While investments in product development for vector control have resulted in a rich research-and-development (R&D) pipeline, several challenges threaten the translation of innovations into viable products that can be introduced and scaled-up. These include the cost and complexity of late-stage R&D, specifically large-scale field trials needed to demonstrate impact on reducing infection and/or disease, as well as market-entry barriers faced by innovators and procurers such as establishing the cost-effectiveness of new products when implemented at scale. Additional challenges faced by innovators include articulating the unique selling point of novel interventions; finding sustainable price points so products are profitable but also affordable; ensuring procurer and consumer acceptance; and introducing new tools with complicated and resource-intensive implementation requirements into national vector-control programmes.
Current Call for proposals and examples of specific opportunities
Under this Call, Unitaid is soliciting proposals for the following interventions aimed at accelerating the availability of innovative vector control tools:
- Late-stage product development, namely large-scale field trials and market entry preparatory activities (e.g. market sizing and potential use scenarios, analysis of demand- and supply- side barriers to introduction (e.g. community acceptability assessments), establishment of regulatory and distribution pathways, cost effectiveness/willingness-to-pay studies, etc.) for innovative vector control tools in the following categories:
- New insecticide-based tools and/or application methods (excluding new LLINs such as combination/mixture LLINs, and new insecticides/equipment for IRS)
- New tools not based on insecticides (e.g. biological control methods, endectocidal chemotherapeutic agents, pull-push systems)
For vector-control tools to be considered under this Call they should, at a minimum, be intended for use in malaria, and should aim to address one or more key challenges in malaria, namely, insecticide resistance; outdoor transmission; and/or residual transmission. However tools that can address additional vector-borne diseases beyond malaria are of particular interest (e.g. by targeting common behaviors of Anopheles mosquitoes and other vectors).
For this Call for Proposals, late-stage product development refers specifically to large-scale/community field trials designed to evaluate product claims and epidemiological impact, conducted following successful evaluations in laboratory and small-scale field evaluations (e.g. experimental hut studies). The data generated should be suitable for assessment through World Health Organization product evaluation and policy pathways and should demonstrate the public health impact of the new product. Given that grants awarded under this Call are likely to begin in mid-2018, proponents should demonstrate the potential for field trials of the new product to begin in this timeframe.
Topics which are out of scope
Basic and early-stage research, including laboratory and small-scale field evaluations (e.g. experimental hut studies); new LLINs such as combination/mixture LLINs; new insecticides/equipment for IRS; tools that are not directly relevant to malaria control and elimination; scale-up/commodity purchase activities; and entomological surveillance tools.
Proposals submitted should clearly demonstrate the fit with the objectives set out above, the expected impact and value for money as well as the complementarity and added value to similar projects.
Process for proposal submission
When developing a proposal, please note the following resources:
What proposals should address
Unitaid works through market-based interventions to achieve global market and public health impact. As noted above, Unitaid welcomes approaches that outline a coherent, integrated method (e.g., tools that target multiple vectors or vector-borne diseases). Applicants should be clear about the underlying assumptions made in their proposed approach, and should highlight any major risks or other factors that may affect the delivery of results. Finally, proposals are expected to outline a lean, concrete and clear pathway to results and impact.
Proposals for small-scale demonstration projects or projects in a single country are unlikely to be supported by Unitaid funding in this call. In the exceptional case that intervening in a single country would have global impact; the proposal should include clear evidence to demonstrate this.
The proposed implementing agency needs to demonstrate capacity/prior experience implementing relevant projects, and engaging with civil society groups as lead organization.
If you intend to submit a proposal, please complete and send the intention to submit (ISP) form to firstname.lastname@example.org by 8 July 2017.
The closing date for receipt of full proposals is 30 September 2017, at 12 noon Geneva (Switzerland) time. Applications received past the indicated deadline will not be considered.
Please note: A proposal is considered submitted only once you receive an e-mail message of confirmation of receipt from Unitaid.
Submission and format of proposals
Proposals, including all annexes, should be submitted electronically to email@example.com. A full proposal consists of the following documents:
- Proposal form with scanned version of signed Front page [template DOC, 130 KB]
- Guidance on impact assessment document
- Annex 1: Log frame [template XLS, 50 KB]
- Annex 2: Timeline GANTT chart [template XLS, 35 KB]
- Annex 3: Budget details [template XLS, 20 KB]
- Annex 4: Organizational details and CVs of key team members [no template]
- Annex 5: Support Letters (not mandatory) [no template]
- Annex 6: Declaration of relevant interest [no template]
- Annex 7: Applicable ethics, anti-discrimination and environmental policies [no template]
- Annex 8: Declaration regarding tobacco entities [no template]
- Annex 9: Product description and supporting data [template DOC]
Please note that our email system accepts messages up to 8 MB in size. For submissions exceeding this size, please consider splitting attachments in several messages.
Your proposal and potential queries receive personal attention: submitting your application at least a day before the deadline allows providing feedback on its completeness. You will receive answers to your queries at any one stage of the application review process. Please send your queries to Grant Application Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
Assessment and notification
After assessment of the proposals and endorsement by the Unitaid Board all applicants will be officially notified as to whether they will be invited to develop a full grant agreement for Unitaid funding.
You will find further guidance in the Unitaid proposal process document.