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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
February 20, 2008
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a Durbar at Maamobi Polyclinic
3:25 P.M. (Local)
MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much, Mrs. Kufuor. Thank you for that very warm introduction. I want to tell you that people worldwide, certainly in the United States as well, have problems both with poor nutrition and obesity, which is a rising problem in the United States. And I do want you to know that the United States will do whatever we can to work with Ghana to address these problems.
I want to thank Jordin Sparks. Thank you, Jordin, for your beautiful performance. Jordin is the star, as you know, of our country's most popular television show, "American Idol." And viewers to that show have donated millions of dollars to charities that work to fight against malaria. So thank you, Jordin, for representing compassionate people from back home. (Applause.) This is Jordin's first trip to Africa. She's making her very first trip here in Ghana. Thank you so much for joining us. (Applause.)
I also want to acknowledge the very distinguished people who are sitting on the dais with me: Dr. Sory, the Director General of the Ghana Health Service; thank you, Dr. Sory. Dr. Ashitey, Deputy Minister of Health; thank you very much, Gladys. Dr Constance Plange, the Program Manager, Ghana National Malaria Control program; thank you so much. Dennis Weller, the Deputy Director of USAID/Ghana -- there's Dennis; thank you. Dr. James Armah, the Deputy Director of Public Health and head of the Nutrition Unit, Ghana Health Service; Dr. Brese, Doctor-in-Charge of the Maamobi Polyclinic. I'd also like to recognize Chief Issah, the Executive Director of the Muslim Family Counseling Center. Chief, thank you for joining us. (Applause.) Queen Mother, Maamobi community, is also with us. And I want to recognize all of the community chiefs. Thank you so much for coming, and thank you for being an example to your people. (Applause.)
Thank you all for your warm welcome to your beautiful country. I'm delighted to be back in Ghana. (Applause.) In Ghana, one child out of every nine dies before his fifth birthday. Each one of these deaths is tragic. Many of these deaths are even more tragic because they're preventable.
Here at Maamobi Polyclinic, our countries are working together to eliminate two preventable causes of death in children: malnutrition and malaria. In 2005, President Bush launched the President's Malaria Initiative: a five-year program to combat malaria in the hardest-hit African nations.
Ghana's Presidential Malaria Initiative was launched last December, and in its first year, the initiative will provide $17 million for malaria treatment and prevention. The initiative will support Ghana's National Malaria Control Program to provide more than a million mosquito nets for children and pregnant mothers' beds. (Applause.)
One of PMI's first projects in Ghana is a program to re-treat bed nets with insecticides that keep away deadly mosquitoes. In a few minutes, Mrs. Kufuor and I will help re-treat some bed nets -- a practice that Ghanaians will repeat in communities across your country this year.
As USAID's NetMark program works to save lives from malaria, it also works to improve lives through economic empowerment. The program enlists Ghana's "Umbrella Ladies": women entrepreneurs who sit under umbrellas selling their wares. Located strategically in health facilities or in their communities, the Ladies will sell insecticide-treated bed nets.
Using a business style that's familiar to Ghanaians, the Ladies improve public access to bed nets while they build their own small businesses. The Ladies are helping to develop a culture of bed-net purchase and use that will be sustained in Ghana long after the President's Malaria Initiative ends. Mrs. Kufuor and I are looking forward to meeting with these Ladies in just a few minutes.
Today it's appropriate that we're discussing the malaria epidemic and malnutrition at a durbar -- a traditional Ghanaian community gathering. Durbars bring together tribal leaders, students, government officials and workers as one community. And it takes everyone in the community -- everyone -- mothers, fathers, teachers, religious leaders and governments -- to defeat malaria.
Congratulations to each of you on Ghana's ambitious malaria control program. I wish you the very best as you bring communities together. (Applause.)
The American people are proud to work with you toward a goal that both of our countries share: healthy lives today, and a more hopeful world for our children.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)