White House To Hold Malaria Summit in December

Cheryl Pellerin | 13 Nov 2006

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush will host a White House Summit on Malaria in December, bringing together international experts and representatives from nongovernmental, faith-based and service organizations to highlight measures to control malaria -- a preventable disease that kills one child in Africa every 30 seconds.

On June 30, 2005, the president announced the President's Malaria Initiative. The $1.2 billion, five-year initiative seeks to cut malaria-related deaths by 50 percent in 15 target countries in Africa.

The Office of the First Lady is working with the Office of the Malaria Coordinator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, other federal agencies, the Millennium Promise Alliance and other private partners to call on the private sector, foundations, voluntary organizations and school groups to complement the initiative by matching the U.S. government's financial commitment and educating the public about malaria.

The objectives of the summit are to:

• Jump-start an ambitious public-private effort to control malaria.

• Educate the American public about malaria, a preventable and treatable disease.

• Send a message globally about the need for governments, nongovernmental organizations, corporations, and private citizens to join together to control malaria.

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.

A study released 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 affects their operations. (See related article.)

The December summit will highlight organizations at work in the fight against malaria, including Malaria No More, a nonprofit organization that is helping to mobilize new private-sector support.

Malaria No More was created in 2006 by leading nongovernmental entities to give private and nonprofit organizations and individuals the opportunity to support a comprehensive approach to control malaria, and to help coordinate those efforts with governments and the multilateral organizations at the forefront of the fight.

Malaria No More is mobilizing corporations and foundations; churches, synagogues and mosques; schools and athletic teams; and communities and individuals.

Another summit partner is the Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the U.S. State Department.