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General News Wed, 20 Feb 2008

Bush malaria initiative pledges $17 million

Accra, Feb. 20, GNA - Mrs. Laura Bush, the American First Lady, on Wednesday launched the US President's Malaria Initiative in Accra that pledged an amount of 17 million US dollars to assist in the prevention and treatment of malaria in the country.

The money would be used to provide anti malarial drugs and more than a million mosquito treated bed-nets to mothers and children to keep away the deadly mosquitoes.

Nutrition rehabilitation forms part of President Bush's project to scale up interventions on regenerative health programmes to prevent malnutrition and reduce the high burden of preventable diseases afflicting people on the continent.

Mrs Bush who arrived in Ghana last night with President Bush, on the fourth-leg of his six-day five-nation tour of Africa, was addressing members of the Maamobi community at the Maamobi Polyclinic in Accra. Mrs Theresa Aba Kufuor, Ghana's First Lady led Mrs Bush to interact with the dignitaries who included the Queenmother of Maamobi, Naa Adoley-Abosey, members of selected Moslem Associations, mothers and their children who had benefited from the nutrition rehabilitation programme and personnel from the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service.

Mrs Bush said one child out of every nine died before the third birthday out of preventable diseases like malaria and malnutrition. She said the package came at a time when reported cases of malaria in the country is said to be up by about 13 per cent and that America, which also had a problem of poor nutrition and obesity would work closely with Ghana to combat those diseases.

Mrs Bush said women located strategically would be made to sell the bed-nets to encourage its use and urged the health personnel to organise durbars on the disease to create the needed awareness.

She inspected a demonstration of the preparation of nutritious food supplements supplied by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve on the health of children suffering from malnutrition and obesity.

The food supplements includes wheat and corn soy blend, soy fortified sorghum and rice, vegetable oil and textured protein recently received from the US Navy.

Mrs Bush commended Ghana for the warm welcome accorded her and her team adding, "America is proud to work with you."

Mrs Kufuor said malaria and malnutrition were the two major priority areas of intervention by the government since they caused a high level of burden on the people.

She said malaria was the number one cause of hospital attendance and death in the country as well as poor dietary practices resulting in malnutrition.

Mrs Kufuor said the initiative would go a long way to scale up the regenerative intervention and reduce the level of the disease in the country.

She said the visit would reinstate the long established collaboration between the US and Ghana and contribute to the mutual benefit of both countries. Dr. Gladys Ashitey, Deputy Minister of Health said the Ministry was convinced that the health of the people would be improved through the initiative which would create more awareness on preventive rather than curative methods. 20 Feb. 08

Source: GNA