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UN Foundation Charity Launches Faith-Based Malaria Eradication Drive

Ted Turner, head of the public charity organization UN Foundation, has announced a new partnership with two Protestant churches to raise $200 million for the eradication of malaria in Africa. From United Nations headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

Some 25 million Lutherans and Methodists worldwide are expected to participate in the new effort to raise awareness and money to help wipe out malaria.

Turner, whose $1 billion gift started the UN Foundation in 1998, announced the faith-based initiative Tuesday, during a U.N. conference on the Millennium Development Goals, the U.N.'s plan to cut poverty and disease by 2015. "These funds will help provide resources to help eliminate malaria deaths by strengthening health systems, supporting the global fund to fight AIDS, TB [tuberculosis] and malaria, and advancing the churches' on the ground health missions," he said.

Turner said the foundation of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates will also support the initiative to cut malaria deaths.

Although malaria is a preventable and treatable disease, more than 500 million people worldwide are infected each year, and more than one million die from the mosquito-borne disease. In sub-Saharan Africa, malaria is the leading killer of children age five and under. Malaria also keeps countries poor, costing Africa some $12 billion each year in lost productivity.

Inexpensive insecticide-treated bed nets are one of the most effective ways to prevent malaria infection when they are consistently used.