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DEVELOPMENT REPORT - White House Increases Support for Malaria Fight

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This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

The Bush administration has announced a new program to support local efforts to control malaria in Africa. Laura Bush said thirty million dollars will go to African and American nongovernmental organizations, as well as civic and religious groups.

The first lady announced the Malaria Communities Program at a White House conference last Thursday. The one-day White House Summit on Malaria was the first of its kind. It was organized to educate Americans about malaria and to give new life to a worldwide campaign to end the disease.

President Bush (l) with with actor Isaiah Washington at closing of the White House Summit on Malaria, 14 Dec 2006
President Bush (l) with with actor Isaiah Washington at closing of the White House Summit on Malaria, 14 Dec 2006

The conference included nonprofit groups, international health experts and African civic leaders. Among other things, they discussed an effort to get millions of chemically treated mosquito nets to Africans. That campaign is led by a new group called Malaria No More.

Also, President Bush will declare April twenty-fifth of next year Malaria Awareness Day, as observed by other nations. And he announced he will add eight countries to a year-old program, the President's Malaria Initiative. They include Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya, along with Liberia, Madagascar, Mali and Zambia.

The initiative calls for spending more than one thousand million dollars over five years on fifteen African countries. The goal is to cut their malaria-related deaths by fifty percent.

President Bush says the plan has already helped six million people in Tanzania, Angola and Uganda. Other targeted countries are Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda and Senegal.

Malaria kills more than one million people a year, mostly young children in Africa.

The World Bank last week announced one hundred eighty million dollars in interest-free loans to fight malaria in Nigeria. Africa's most populated nation has twenty percent of the world's cases.

Earlier this month, a study in Science magazine showed how malaria and AIDS help each other to spread. University of Washington scientists say malaria temporarily increases virus levels in people with HIV. So they are more likely to infect others. And because the AIDS virus weakens the body's defenses, the victims are at higher risk from malaria.

And last week, the United States National Institutes of Health announced another important finding about AIDS. Two studies in Africa showed that circumcision can reduce a man's risk of getting HIV through heterosexual sex by half. For more about this finding, and about malaria, go to www.unsv.com.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss. I'm Steve Ember.

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