Malaria off the Map

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

At a glance

An animated presentation that helped Bill Gates show world leaders how we can wipe malaria off the map.

The brink of victory

We are on the brink of one of global health’s greatest victories. By 2040, malaria could be wiped out, once and for all.

But this goal – and the progress made over the past three decades – is in jeopardy. It requires increased funding, new tools and other innovations.

Four illustrations used in the visualization

Don't delay

At Davos 2018, Bill Gates gave a talk on the path to eliminating malaria by 2040. He needed our visualization to transform global data into a presentation to illustrate his words.

It was a fast turnaround, too. We had six weeks to be ready for the World Economic Forum’s famous annual conference.

Image of a sketchbook with some early visualization pencil sketches

Clearing the way to understanding

It’s a complex story weaving together global data, alternative futures, on-stage words and on-screen animation.

But to help Bill Gates convey what needs to be done to achieve the goal of malaria elimination by 2040, we needed to keep things simple, understandable and compelling.

Timeline of when malaria would be eliminated from countries

Time travelling

To do this, we combined two standard devices: a world map and timeline.

This enabled us to shuttle the story smoothly between 2015 and 2060, showing the battle against malaria play out across the world in two possible futures.

Map showing countries with malaria

Deep focus

Boldness and simplicity were our watch words.

We wanted to hold people’s attention on the ever-changing global geography of malaria, so we designed a simple world map without unnecessary distraction.

Map and timeline showing the implication of a delay in implementing tools on malaria eradication

Getting it at a glance

Combing the timeline and map also enabled people to see everything at a glance.

This helped get the big point across. How the delay of just one anti-malaria intervention – gene drive, next-gen bed nets or antimalarial drugs – would set back the eradication of malaria across the entire world.

They were all yellow

Red for regression, green for progress. We’d previously established a visual language for the special annual Goalkeepers report in 2017.

By building on this visual vocabulary – using yellow to denote malaria-affected regions – we ensured this animated visualization felt like an integral part of the greater narrative.

Map and timeline showing the outcome in implementing tools on malaria eradication on time
Map and timeline showing the implication of a delay in implementing tools on malaria eradication

Moving the marker

Colour and movement were crucial to the storytelling. Each time a country became unafflicted, its yellow marking drifted off the map to become a malaria-free marker on the timeline.

Visually, audience members would see that the goal was to literally wipe malaria off the map.

Keeping pace

The Gates Foundation team had control of the multi-part story and if necessary could rewind certain chapters as required.

We paced the transitions slowly enough for people to absorb the story, but swiftly enough to keep up with the presenter’s spoken words.

Image of a sketchbook with some early visualization pencil sketches
Animation showing a visualization of the eradication of malaria from countries Animation showing three of the tools used in the eradication of malaria from countries

Social snapshots

Once the full-length animation was completed, we adapted it into a series of short looping videos to grab people’s attention on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Running between a minute and just a few seconds, these social-media mini-stories served as punchy snapshots of the presentation’s main talking points.

Picture of Bill Gates delivering his talk at Davos 2018

Delivering at Davos

Bill Gates delivered his talk at Davos 2018, using our animated interactive to give heft to the powerful underlying message: ‘Progress is possible, but not inevitable.’