Results of two studies conducted in Africa show that circumcision can cut the rate of HIV infection in heterosexual men by 50 percent. Meanwhile the Bush administration is launching a new anti-malaria initiative. An expert discusses combating these diseases and the role of international organizations.
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Spread by just a mosquito bite, malaria sickens up to 500 million people and kills more than a million each year. Most of the deaths are among children, and around 90 percent of them are African.
This human toll also has a high economic cost, an estimated $12 billion annually in lost growth in Africa. But it's also clear to experts in the field that malaria is both treatable and preventable, through relatively simple and low-cost measures.
Today, President and Mrs. Bush held a White House summit to discuss what the U.S. is doing to combat the disease in Africa. Eight new countries were added to the U.S. initiative, bringing the total to 15.
GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: We're spending $1.2 billion over five years to provide bed nets, and indoor spraying, and anti-malaria medicine in 15 African countries.
This project is measurable. We can determine whether or not nets are being distributed or medicine is being provided. But, more importantly, we can measure whether or not we're saving lives. We work toward this historic goal to cut the number of malaria-related deaths in half.
In addition to the president's initiative, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, created in 2002, has pledged $2.6 billion over five years to fight the disease in 85 countries.
There was also some important news yesterday on preventing AIDS. A pair of studies found that circumcision substantially reduces the risk of HIV among young men.