- The Washington Times - Monday, February 18, 2008

DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA — President Bush and first lady Laura Bush today visited the northern city of Arusha to highlight the effectiveness of U.S. aid that has prevented thousands of deaths from malaria.

“For years, malaria has been a health crisis in sub-Sahara Africa,” Mr. Bush said during a visit to the Meru District Hospital.

“The suffering caused by malaria is needless, and every death caused by malaria is unacceptable. It is unacceptable,” Mr. Bush said.

The Bush administration in 2005 began sending $1.2 billion to 15 African nations over five years to prevent and treat malaria, which is most often mosquito-borne and transmitted.

The aid has gone to distributing insecticide-treated bed nets; training health workers; treating the most at risk to malaria, such as pregnant women; and educating the public about how to prevent the disease.

Mr. Bush said 5 million vouchers for bed nets have been given away in Tanzania so far and announced today that the U.S. and Tanzanian governments aim to distribute 5 million more over the next six months.

Malaria deaths at the Meru hospital fell from 50 in 2006 to five in 2007, in large part because of these programs, Mr. Bush said.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete also praised the program yesterday.

“There are thousands of women and children who would have died from malaria that are alive in Tanzania and all over the country, thanks to your malaria support program,” Mr. Kikwete said at a press conference with Mr. Bush at the statehouse.

Mr. Kikwete cited the example of Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous island off the coast of Tanzania.

About 500,000 residents of Zanzibar were treated for malaria in 2004. By 2007, that number had fallen to 10,000, Mr. Kikwete said.

Mr. and Mrs. Bush visited a textile factory later in the day that produces, among other things, some of the bed nets that are being distributed throughout the country.

“So as this campaign protects women and children from malaria, it also … boosts local economies,” Mr. Bush said.


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