In his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush talked about the need to combat malaria in Africa. This kind of humanitarian assistance, said Mr. Bush, is a vital part of America's foreign policy:
"Our work in the world is also based on a timeless truth: to whom much is given, much is required. We hear the call to take on the challenges of hunger and poverty and disease -- and that is precisely what we are doing."
In 2005, the U.S. launched a five-year, $1.2 billion program aimed at cutting the malaria mortality rate by 50 percent in 15 African countries. With support from the national governments, other donors, and the private sector, the program has already provided assistance to over six million Africans in Angola, Tanzania, and Uganda.
In Zanzibar, malaria is the leading cause of death. In 2006, more than 230,000 insecticide-treated bed nets were distributed and, as a result, Zanzibar has seen a precipitous decrease in its reported malaria cases. On Pemba Island, one of the two islands that constitutes Zanzibar, the number of confirmed malaria cases reported between January and September 2006 dropped 87 percent from the same period in 2005.
In 2007, 30 million more people in Africa are expected to receive lifesaving malaria prevention or treatment interventions as the program expands. The new countries that will benefit this year include Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Senegal.
Defeating malaria is both an urgent calling and an achievable goal. Allowing malaria to continue to devastate Africa, said President Bush, "is just simply unacceptable. So we are acting, and we're leading. And with partners across the world, we are helping the people of Africa turn the tide against malaria."