World leaders have made a bold statement about malaria at their summit in Myanmar: committing to eliminate the disease from the Asia-Pacific region by 2030. This is an achievable goal and an important one – not only for political leaders but for us in the business community as well. Bill Gates has called for action globally, saying just weeks ago that “malaria elimination in one specific region of the world – Southeast Asia – will be absolutely critical to sustaining the progress that we’ve achieved in the past decade.” It’s equally important for our future. Malaria elimination is both a cause and a measure of economic progress – the result of strong health systems, stable investment and improving infrastructure – and it is time for Asia to take its place alongside the United States and Europe as malaria free. Why do the heads of businesses like my Mayapada Group support malaria elimination? We see four main reasons. First, it is unacceptable that a preventable, treatable and curable disease still infects 30 million people a year in this region – keeping our employees home from work and draining productivity in our businesses and communities. Private sector leaders including the Pilipinas Shell Foundation and PNG Industry Malaria Initiative have paved the way for a new model of fighting malaria here in Asia, while companies implementing similar malaria control programs in Africa have documented a 28% return on that investment. We cannot claim to be operating at peak efficiency if we’re not addressing a major barrier to productivity. Second, because the world is depending on us. If we don’t act now, while momentum is on our side, we face incredible future risks – from a resurgence of malaria to the failure of our primary drug for treating the disease. In particular, the threat of parasite resistance to the front-line treatment, artemisinin, is already undermining progress against malaria in the Greater Mekong. The consequences of resistance left unchecked will spread far beyond our borders. History has already shown us that resistance to malaria drugs can spread from Southeast Asia into Africa, where most of the world’s malaria burden resides. If we do not eliminate malaria parasites from our region, resistant strains could spread, costing millions of lives the world over. The third reason is that malaria elimination requires innovation – in prevention, diagnostics, treatment and service delivery – which our region both needs and excels at producing. One of the keys to eliminating the last remaining malaria enclaves will be better real-time data collection, disease surveillance and rapid response. Solving that challenge will not only be good for fighting malaria, it will mitigate the risks of other disease outbreaks that can stop travel and commerce in their tracks. And within our local business community, we have the expertise to help design and deploy better data systems. Take Japan’s Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT) as an example. GHIT has worked with seven of Japan’s leading pharmaceutical, health technology and chemical companies to open up their chemical compound libraries to identify the most promising new candidates for drug discovery and medical advances to address malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases. In last year, GHIT invested US$17.5 million in 20 promising development partnerships and has nearly doubled its investment this year. The fourth reason is that it’s an excellent investment. Malaria elimination provides multiple payoffs from lower healthcare costs and higher productivity to lower risks of resurgence or outbreaks and a blueprint for success against other diseases of poverty. Accenture estimated last year that the profit on investing in malaria elimination would be at least US$208 billion by 2035 globally. We cannot reap all of those benefits without finishing the job. We are pleased that political leaders have stepped up with a clear and bold commitment, and we believe that malaria elimination is truly a shared goal. This is a public-private partnership in the truest sense. Achieving it will produce profound public and private benefits. As companies and business leaders, we see our role as investing in malaria elimination through the channels that make the most business sense: making strong malaria interventions part of occupational health programs, applying our skills to developing new tools for malaria elimination, using corporate philanthropy budgets to contribute to the Asian Development Bank’s Trust Fund for Regional Malaria and Other Communication Disease Threats, sponsoring research fellowships for promising young scientists in the region, funding community health education programs and speaking up as advocates for malaria elimination. Businesses such as ours have been instrumental in getting us this far – bringing malaria cases and deaths to unprecedented low levels – and we are committed to working with our government partners to make the Asia-Pacific region malaria free by 2030.