U.S. President George W. Bush says religious-based charities have made a "remarkable" difference in the lives of needy people in the United States and Africa during his presidency.  VOA's Kent Klein reports from Washington.

President Bush used his weekly radio address Saturday to promote his administration's partnership with faith-based groups.

The president said that in the United States, religious charities have helped reduce homelessness, matched children of prisoners with adult mentors, and helped thousands of former prisoners to find jobs.
Mr. Bush says American faith-based charities have also been very helpful outside the United States, especially in fighting malaria in Africa.

"In just over two years, this effort has reached more than 25 million people," he said.  "And according to new data, malaria rates are dropping dramatically in many parts of that continent."

Mr. Bush says the charity groups have also provided vital support for his effort to fight AIDS in Africa.

"When we launched this program in 2003, about 50,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa were receiving anti-retroviral treatment for HIV/ AIDS.  Today, that number is nearly 1.7 million," he added.

When he became President, Mr. Bush lifted previous restrictions that blocked faith-based charities from receiving government help.

The Democratic Party response to the president's radio talk addressed an entirely different issue:  fuel prices and energy policy.  New Mexico state Governor and former U.S. energy secretary Bill Richardson promoted Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's ideas for increasing U.S. energy independence and criticized those of Republican candidate John McCain.