The promise comes six days before world leaders from eight industrial nations and Russia will meet in Gleneagles, Scotland for a summit about Africa and climate change. Currently, the United States gives $230 million to Africa to fight malaria. The president said the five-year campaign will help cut African malaria deaths in half by 2010.
“In the overwhelming majority of cases the victims are less than 5 years old — their lives ended by nothing more than a mosquito bite,” said President Bush, “We’re making a strong commitment for the future. Between 2004 and 2010, I propose to double aid to Africa once again, with a primary focus on helping reforming countries.”
The pledge comes with other initiatives: $400 million to promote education for girls in Africa and $55 million over three years to provide legal protections for African women who endure domestic violence and sexual abuse.
This new aid package comes in addition to the $674 million pledged by the president for emergency famine relief when Prime Minister Tony Blair visited the White House earlier this month.
“We welcome the president’s focus both on governance and democracy as well as on the key issues of girls’ education and malaria,” Blair said in a statement. “We want the G-8 to sign up to providing universal access to malaria prevention and treatment and to train millions of new teachers for Africa.”
At the summit, President Bush also plans to encourage other nations and private foundations to help fight malaria in Africa.
“We know that large-scale action can defeat this disease in whole regions and the world must take action,” Bush said. “Together we can lift this threat and defeat this fear across the African continent.”
Mohammad Akhter, president of the Washington-based aid group alliance InterAction, told Bloomberg News that Bush’s malaria initiative was a “great first step in a long road toward eradicating poverty and disease.”
However, other organizations believe the president’s aid package does not go far enough. In a BBC News interview, Patrick Watt, spokesman for ActionAid, an anti-poverty charity said, “This is a very modest step forward that is being spun as a colossal leap.”
In the first year, the malaria aid package will go to Tanzania, Uganda and Angola, four more countries in 2007 and five more in 2008. President Bush said the new initiative should cover more than 175 million Africans in at least 15 nations, but he said the countries must be willing to undergo political and economic reform.
Malaria is one of the top killers in Africa, and most of its victims are children. The ancient mosquito-borne disease infects as many as 400 million people worldwide, killing 1 million a year.