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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
June 27, 2007

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the Maputo Seminary on the President's Malaria Initiative
Maputo Seminary
Maputo, Mozambique

photos  Photos

10:20 A.M. (Local)

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all very much. Thank you so much, Mrs. Guebuza, for your very kind introduction. Bishop Sengulane, thank you very much for letting us be here and for your very, very wonderful words. Dr. Garrido, the Minister of Health, thank you for your good work.

I'd like to introduce to all of you Admiral Timothy Ziemer. Admiral Ziemer is the head of the President's Malaria Initiative. (Applause.) Admiral Ziemer will travel to all of the countries -- or already has, probably -- to all of the countries that are targeted with the President's Malaria Initiative, and I'm very happy that he joined me here in Mozambique.

Mrs. Laura Bush addresses the Inter-Religious Campaign against Malaria, Wednesday, June 27, 2007, at the Maputo Seminary in Maputo, Mozambique. Mrs. Bush announced a grant of a three-year, nearly $2 million dollar grant to IRCMM, which was first established by 10 national faith leaders in Maputo. White House photo by Shealah Craighead Religious leaders, distinguished guests, thank you very much for the warm welcome to Maputo. And thank you to each of you for coming to talk about what each of us can do to extend the blessings of good health throughout Mozambique by working together to eradicate malaria.

Defeating this epidemic is an urgent calling -- especially because malaria is treatable and preventable. In 2005, President Bush launched the President's Malaria Initiative, a five-year program to combat malaria in the hardest-hit African nations. So far, the initiative has distributed life-saving medicines, insecticide sprays, and mosquito nets to millions of people across the continent of Africa.

Already, we're seeing signs of progress. By the end of next year, 70 percent of families living in the PMI focus countries will be protected by insecticide-treated nets. Here in Mozambique, the President's Malaria Initiative has provided $17 million for malaria treatment and prevention. The initiative's first project was a mosquito net treatment campaign, which in just a few months has re-treated with insecticide almost half a million mosquito nets.

Last year, Mozambique's Ministry of Health launched a nationwide malaria control program that aims to cut malaria deaths in half by 2015. As Mozambicans work to reach this important goal, the America people are proud to stand with you.

The President's Malaria Initiative is a terrific example of how governments can work together to address poverty and pandemic disease. Non-governmental organizations, religious institutions, volunteer groups and individual citizens can also play a role in this historic effort.

Caring citizens everywhere are answering the call to help. In sports leagues and schools, children raise money for mosquito nets. In April, on our country's first ever Malaria Awareness Day, the National Basketball Association donated 500 mosquito nets to African nations. Viewers of America's most popular TV show, American Idol, donated $9 million to Malaria No More.

As I've traveled across the United States and around the world, I've met many generous people determined to defeat malaria, and some of the most extraordinary compassion has been shown by people of faith.

Today, I'm pleased to announce the first grant to the Inter-Religious Campaign against Malaria in Mozambique. Through the President's Malaria Initiative, with a three-year, nearly $2 million grant that is expected to benefit over a million and a half people. (Applause.)

The Inter-Religious Campaign was established by 10 national faith leaders in Maputo, Mozambique. In 2006, these leaders requested the participation of the Washington National Cathedral and the Adventist and Development Relief Agency in moving forward with their dream of a Mozambique without Malaria.

National Campaign members include: the Roman Catholic Church, the Islamic Congress of Mozambique, the Islamic Council of Mozambique, the Anglican Church, the United Methodist Church, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the Hindu Community, Assemblies of God, the Christian Council of Mozambique, and the Baha'i Community.

This inter-faith group will be implementing the first stage of its "Together Against Malaria" program in the province of Zambezia by providing health education, training, and community mobilization through trained faith leaders. Faith communities exist in every village in the country; therefore, faith leaders can reach their members and impact their attitudes and behavior related to malaria.

Faith-based organizations like the ones represented here have local connections. Trust is built, and hope is provided in places where hope is scarce. Churches, monasteries, temples, mosques, and synagogues have gone where no one else would go. Houses of worship serve as community centers. They serve as a place for focal points of education, for distribution of commodities, and for advocacy for the needs of their people. Congratulations to the Inter-Religious Campaign, and thank you for your compassionate work. (Applause.)

This afternoon, I'll observe a spraying campaign supported by the Global Fund to fights AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This campaign is part of a program that has lowered malaria prevalence to below 20 percent in some Mozambican villages. One is the remote village of Beleluane, where community members were recently interviewed about the spraying campaign's effectiveness.

In one interview, the first neighborhood secretary, Ana Maria Manjate, explained that malaria once devastated her community. Pregnant women suffered frequent miscarriages. Babies were born underweight. Children were often absent from school. Children who did go to school might find their classmates lying in the street, weak from malaria.

Since the spraying, though, school attendance has increased. Healthy babies are being born. The community has been educated about malaria prevention -- so they let sprayers into their homes, and they use insecticide-treated nets. The spraying, Ana Maria explains, "lets us live healthy lives."

In addition to our partnership on malaria, the United States is working with Mozambique to promote long-term economic growth. In 2002, our country launched the Millennium Challenge Account, which encourages governments to invest in their people, to foster economic freedom and growth, and to become more transparent.

I'm happy to be the one to tell you that in just a few hours, the board of the Millennium Challenge Corporation will meet to approve a $507 million compact with the government of Mozambique. (Applause.) These resources will strengthen property rights, upgrade your country's roads, improve Mozambican agriculture.

And the largest part of the compact -- more than $200 million -- will provide clean water to urban and rural areas throughout Mozambique by installing water wells in remote villages. The compact will help eliminate mosquito breeding grounds. And by providing safe water for nearly 2 million people, the devastating toll of water-borne diseases -- including malaria -- will be reduced.

President Guebuza and the government of Mozambique have shown great diligence and hard work in developing this Millennium Challenge proposal. Congratulations on this important achievement for your country. (Applause.)

And congratulations to the Inter-Religious Campaign against Malaria in Mozambique for your first PMI grant. It's appropriate that we're meeting here at this Semin rio Pio X, named for Father Giuseppe Sarto, the Italian priest who later became Pope Pius X, and was canonized as Saint Pius X.

Father Sarto first became a hero among the faithful in the 1870s when a cholera epidemic struck his parish. This young priest buried the dead, heard the confessions of the sick, supplied medicines, and tended to the families at all hours of the day and night. He often went without food so that others could eat, and when his sisters urged him to rest, he refused, determined to save his flock. As one fellow clergyman observed, "He inspired courage in us all."

More than 130 years later, each of you -- and committed pastors and imams across Africa -- inspire courage in your congregations through your efforts to defeat malaria.

Thanks to each one of you for your compassion. May God bless you, and may God bless your very important work to defeat malaria. (Applause.)

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