Mrs. Laura Bush Lauds Reach of New Malaria Prevention Program

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American business and government equip more than 12,000 volunteers to transform Zambia with revolutionary home-based care. Bruce Wilkinson of World Vision, Chief of Program, is available for interview.

With help from the RAPIDS consortium, they'll reach about 1 million young children, pregnant mothers, and people infected with HIV -- almost 10 percent of Zambia's population

Mrs. Laura Bush today announced the distribution of 500,000 mosquito bed nets to Zambia’s most vulnerable households by the RAPIDS coalition, part of a unique partnership in malaria prevention highlighted at the White House launch of Malaria Awareness Day. RAPIDS is a consortium of humanitarian agencies led by World Vision.

The bed nets, supplied by the President’s Malaria Initiative and the Global Business Coalition, are being distributed by a vast network of more than 12,000 volunteer caregivers assembled by RAPIDS. The consortium, which also includes Africare, CARE International, Catholic Relief Services, Expanded Church Response and the Salvation Army, trains volunteers to care for orphans, widows and those living with HIV and AIDS, and helps communities surmount the underlying causes of poverty and disease. Since its start in 2004, RAPIDS has become a model of how home-based care is revolutionizing aid in rural Africa.

“With help from the RAPIDS consortium, they'll reach about 1 million young children, pregnant mothers, and people infected with HIV -- almost 10 percent of Zambia's population,” Mrs. Laura Bush said of the bed nets. These nets “will give a country devastated by malaria the promise of good health and renewed hope.”

Mrs. Bush spoke at an event at the White House Rose Garden, where President George W. Bush emphasized the U.S. commitment to cutting malaria deaths by 50 percent within five years. The First Lady plans to visit Zambia to view net distribution in coming months.

RAPIDS (Reaching HIV/AIDS Affected People with Integrated Development and Support) is funded by one of the largest grants from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The program is designed to reach at least 12 percent of Zambia’s population by 2010. The wide-reaching grassroots humanitarian infrastructure developed by RAPIDS is now also being used to prevent malaria.

“It makes all the sense in the world to use the platform and networks built for AIDS relief to effectively tackle malaria on a large scale, combining the efforts of the President’s initiatives for AIDS and malaria for a greater reach,” said Bruce Wilkinson, chief of the RAPIDS coalition. “It takes a partnership of governments, corporations and private individuals – including the many volunteer caregivers – to achieve the life-saving success we know is possible.”

In Zambia’s population of 10.2 million, there are up to 4 million malaria cases and as many as 50,000 die from the disease each year. In 2005, an estimated 1.1 million adults and children were living with HIV, a condition that makes them especially vulnerable to malaria.

Additionally, World Vision is also working to prevent malaria in 13 of the 15 countries included in the President’s Malaria Initiative. Interviews are available with Mr. Wilkinson and with Dr. Anne Peterson, senior health advisor for World Vision International and former assistant administrator for global health at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

To schedule an interview, contact Geraldine Ryerson-Cruz at 202-615-2608 (mobile) or gryerson@worldvision.org

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, please visit http://www.worldvision.org

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Geraldine Ryerson-Cruz
World Vision
202-615-2608
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