The Dakar meeting is described as watershed moment at a time when it was recognized that global malaria research funding was severely underfunded and no new antimalarial drugs, vaccines, or public health use insecticides were being developing despite the enormous burden of disease in Africa and the rapid spread of drug and insecticide resistance. It was possibly the first time that leading malaria researchers from the United States, Europe, and Africa and the leadership of the world’s major research agencies, foundations and donors sat around the same table to explore ways to strengthen and coordinate the research needed to develop improved tools for malaria control. The participants agreed on the need to build sustainable research capacity in Africa and the immediate priority to provide African malaria scientists access to the Internet. However, plans to sustain an organization to accomplish these goals were unresolved.
In July 1997, representatives of the funding organizations and pharmaceutical companies to meet in the Hague to discuss practical mechanisms for supporting the research and capacity strengthening priorities identified in Dakar. Participants rejected the U.S. proposal to create a “common pot” of funds contributed by all partner funding agencies or bankrolled by the pharmaceutical companies. They also discarded an alternative to accept common applications with joint peer review of proposals but accepted individual agency selection of recommended proposals to fund. The core MIM agency partners reassembled in London in November 1997 to organize the initiative as the current four component effort in which each agency agreed to take responsibility for a specific part of the program.
From the beginning, MIM faced the continuing challenge of creating itself while fostering the work of African malaria scientists according to the principles established at Dakar. Each of the MIM components achieved a cumulative set of successes while struggling with fundraising. Each component developed its own funding partnerships and approaches to supporting its activities. The rotation of the secretariat was meant to allow different partner organizations to contribute new energy and new approaches based on their strengths through MIM administration.
In 2002, an independent review panel found that a remarkable number of the objectives designed at Dakar had been realized through the work of the MIM components. The reviewers pointed to core business functions and governance which needed strengthening (specifically, the lack of a strategic plan to guide the organization in working with its multitude of partners over the last 5 years (3 ministries of foreign affairs, 12 research funding agencies, 4 United Nations agencies, 6 national development agencies and 4 private companies). MIM was urged to position itself relative to other initiatives such as the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM,) the Global Fund, and the various malaria programs supported by the Bill and Melinda