Saving Half a Million from Malaria

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By the end of this summer, more than 5.2 million mosquito nets will be freely distributed to Africans, an effort that is part of President Bush's special initiative to fight malaria on that continent.

"The suffering caused by malaria is needless and every death caused by malaria is unacceptable," Bush said. Earlier this year, Bush personally helped hand out the malaria nets in Tanzania.

Since 1995, the U.S. president's initiative has helped more than 6 million Africans in Uganda, Tanzania, and Angola by giving away mosquito nets and anti-malarial drugs.

This year an additional 30 million more people are expected to receive help when the initiative expands to four more countries.

Partnering with Faith-Based Groups

But the hard part is putting the funding and resources together. That's where partnerships between faith groups, government and business come in.

There are some simple answers to dealing with malaria. We're talking about things like bed nets and insecticide sprays.

Shuri, a Somali mother of three, knows how easily malaria can kill.

That's why the mosquito net she received last year from Operation Blessing means so much.

With all her money going to buy food for her children, she can't begin to think about spending up to seven dollars for a net.

"Something as simple as a mosquito net can be the difference between life and death," David Darg of Operation Blessing said. "It prevents horrible diseases like malaria and is really saving lives."

Many are watching Zambia, where the U.S. government, corporations and faith groups like world vision are handing out 500,000 bed nets this year. That effort, combined with insecticide sprays and treatment, could seriously curb the disease in Zambia.

Half a Million Infected Every Year

But the big picture is still daunting. Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. It infects up to 500,000 people a year.

The Bush administration has committed 1.2 billion over the next five years, hoping to reduce deaths by at least 50 percent.

But that still leaves a long way to go, and new genetically modified mosquitoes may one day provide the answer.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins say these mosquitoes can block malaria.

But is the world ready for such science?

Despite the numbers, there appears to be a rising interest in helping to fight this killer disease.

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

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