White House To Host Malaria Summit in December

Washington – President Bush and first lady Laura Bush will host a White House summit in December that will seek to mobilize more support for an administration initiative to reduce the occurrence of malaria, according to a statement from the White House spokesman August 25.

The summit will bring together parties from different quarters in government, the international community and the private sector to discuss and highlight measures for controlling malaria, a disease that kills close to 1.3 million people per year, and afflicts from 350 million to 500 million.

President Bush announced the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) in June 2005. It is a $1.2 billion, five-year collaboration of several government agencies that attempts to take a comprehensive approach to preventing and treating malaria.  The program aims to reduce malaria in Africa by 50 percent by 2010. Seven high-risk African nations currently are targeted, and 15 ultimately will be included. (See related article.)

“The summit will call on the private sector, foundations, voluntary organizations and school groups to complement the PMI by matching the U.S. government's financial commitment and educating the public about malaria,” the White House statement said.

Recent studies suggest that the private sector has good reason to be concerned about malaria. The high disease rate undermines national productivity, studies have shown, and drains human resources in regions where the disease remains widespread.

Further, a study release in July concluded that malaria costs business 0.6 percent of gross domestic product, with 39 percent of businesses in sub-Saharan Africa reporting that the disease severely impacts their business.  (See related article.)

More information on malaria is available on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Web site.  For additional information on U.S. policy, see Health.