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First Lady Laura Bush Visits AED/Netmark Malaria-Control Project in Ghana

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/-- First Lady Laura Bush today visited the Maamobi Polyclinic in the Greater Accra region of Ghana to see firsthand two interventions being implemented by AED to control malaria.

Through its NetMark project, AED is working with Ghana's commercial sector to increase the availability and affordability of life-saving insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs). NetMark operates in Ghana and five other sub-Saharan African countries, and is supported by USAID under the President's Malaria Initiative.

"Since NetMark started in Ghana in 2004, sales of affordable ITNs by Ghanaian businesses have grown substantially, to more than 2 million," said Felix Nyanor-Fosu Ghana country manager.

Along with Ghana's First Lady, Theresa Kufuor, and Jordan Sparks, the latest winner of American Idol, Mrs. Bush re-treated bed nets with insecticide and gave them to four pregnant women. Sleeping under an ITN is very effective in preventing malaria, which is carried by night-biting mosquitoes. Pregnant women and children under age 5 are the most vulnerable.

The group also met with local "umbrella ladies," women who sell insecticide-treated bed nets from stands under large umbrellas, and who have become a vital part NetMark's efforts to make ITNs conveniently available in markets and shops.

Mrs. Bush noted that as the "NetMark program works to save lives from malaria, it also works to improve lives through economic empowerment."

NetMark has been able to significantly lower the cost of ITNs through an extraordinarily successful public-private partnership with local and international companies, including manufacturers of nets and insecticide, and wholesalers and retailers.

"For every dollar invested by USAID in NetMark in Ghana, our commercial partners have invested $2.53," said Joseph Addo-Yobbo, NetMark's regional manager for West Africa, who escorted the visitors at the clinic.

Through NetMark's "Full Market Impact" model, the U.S. investment in fighting malaria garners a far greater return than the value of the initial funds. This approach helps to ensure equitable coverage of nets among the poorest and rural citizens in the countries where it operates. In Ghana, NetMark has provided more than 500,000 nets to pregnant women through discount voucher programs, and another 402,467 nets have been provided free to pregnant women and children. Malaria deaths in Ghana have dropped 34% since 2006, according to a recent WHO report.

NetMark operates full programs in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda and Senegal, and provides limited support on technology transfer in Tanzania. AED is a nonprofit organization working globally to improve health, education, and economic development, with a focus on the underserved.

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