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Obama: 'Too Many Still Die from Diseases That Shouldn't Kill Them...'

NEW YORK and ACCRA, Ghana, July 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- During his first visit to Sub-Saharan Africa as president, Barack Obama today gave an historic speech before Ghana's parliament. Devoting one quarter of his speech to address the deadly public health voids in many African countries, the President placed special emphasis on the preventable deaths of children and mothers, noting "...too many still die from diseases that shouldn't kill them."

Acknowledging the public health strides that have been made in some parts of Africa, Obama added, "When children are being killed because of a mosquito bite, and mothers are dying in childbirth, then we know that more progress must be made."

Obama went on to pledge America's support of efforts to stop preventable deaths, "...through a comprehensive, global health strategy. Because in the 21st century, we are called to act by our conscience and our common interest. When a child dies of a preventable illness in Accra, that diminishes us everywhere. And when disease goes unchecked in any corner of the world, we know that it can spread across oceans and continents."

Obama told the audience that his administration has committed some $63 billion towards global health, and pledged it would continue the efforts to combat HIV/AIDS begun by former President George W. Bush. While committing to preventing deaths caused by malaria and tuberculosis, and the eradication of polio, he noted, "... we won't confront illnesses in isolation - we will invest in public health systems that promote wellness and focus on the health of mothers and children."

Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, praised President Obama, saying, "We are deeply appreciative that the President focused a global spotlight on the fact that 25,000 innocent young children die every single day, from preventable causes. This is a wholly unacceptable reality and one that we are working to change in countries like Ghana, and throughout Africa and other continents. Here in the United States, I call on all Americans to join us in our fight to bring that horrific number, 25,000 child deaths, to ZERO."

Noting that President Obama urged the audience to view Africa as multifaceted continent, rather than a passive recipient of international aid, Stern said, "These words are particularly important for Americans to hear. This is the story that you never see in the headlines." Stern continued, "Throughout my travels, I have been privileged to meet many women, to hear their stories and share our concerns. UNICEF partners with women all around the world, in small villages and big cities, to help carry out our lifesaving work. In India, you may find a young mother in a remote area who administers polio vaccines, in Ethiopia, you may encounter one of thousands of women who have been trained to vaccinate women against maternal and neonatal tetanus. These women are true heroes, who go to great lengths to help not only their children, but all of the children in their communities. It is important for people here to know that their donations go not only towards the vaccines, medicines, and physical supplies needed to save lives but also the recruitment and training of such volunteers, who truly save lives."

Stern urges Americans to visit, to join the "I Believe In Zero" campaign to prevent child deaths. "We need every American to stand up and be heard, when it comes to children dying of measles, diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia...these things cost pennies to prevent or cure. Please join us today, and stay with us until our goal of zero is reached."

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