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US, Tanzania Leaders Discuss Malaria


U.S. President George Bush and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete met Friday at the White House to talk about fighting malaria. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush's malaria initiative has reached some 25 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa over the last three years.

Nowhere has it had a more dramatic impact than on the Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar, where insecticide-treated bed nets and indoor spraying have reduced malaria's incidence from about 20 percent of the population to just one percent.

Zanzibar is part of Tanzania, and President Kikwete thanked President Bush for America's help in curbing malaria on the island, as well as working to confront the disease on the mainland.

"Of course, our biggest challenge now with Zanzibar is how to sustain that success, because only [30 kilometers] away on the mainland, in Dar es Salaam, malaria is still there," he said. "So, if people go to Zanzibar with malaria, then the problem is there."

At least one million infants and children under five die from malaria each year in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Fighting the disease was a big focus of the president's trip to Africa earlier this year, when he met with President Kikwete at State House in Dar es Salaam.

Speaking to reporters following their Oval Office meeting Friday, President Bush again thanked President Kikwete for his hospitality, and praised his determination to use foreign assistance wisely.

"I am confident in saying to the American people that your money is being spent wisely and compassionately in Tanzania, and a lot of it has to do with the leadership of the president," said the U.S. president. "He stood up and said, 'We've got a problem, and I'm going to take the lead.' And his government has been responsive to the needs of the people."

The president's malaria initiative is spending more than $1 billion over five years to cut malaria deaths by half in 15 African countries.

During their White House talks, President Bush and President Kikwete also discussed efforts to resolve political divisions in Zimbabwe and end the violence in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

President Kikwete has been involved in both efforts in his role as the current chairman of the African Union.

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