GlaxoSmithKline is streaming £17 million into a new partnership with Comic Relief to fight malaria and improve health in five countries worst affected by the disease.

The five-year alliance aims to support global efforts to strengthen health systems’ capabilities to fight malaria - which still claims almost half a million lives every year despite being preventable and curable - and reduce case incidence and mortality rates by 90% over the next 15 years.

The fund, to which Comic Relief is also contributing £5 million, will provide “targeted grants” to organisations on the frontline tackling the disease in malaria endemic Ghana, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and the Greater Mekong region.

These grants, issued and managed by the charity, will complement current malaria programmes and “help build sustainable ways to ensure people can access diagnosis and prevention at the right time and in the right place,” the parties said.

Grants will be guided by a London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine study, which is scoping out how the partnership can best complement and enhance access to healthcare provision and current malaria interventions.

Earlier this year GSK filed the first vaccine against malaria with European regulators, which subsequently won a recommendation by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use for prevention of the disease in young children in Sub-Saharan Africa.