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Partnerships Key to Zambia's Malaria Fight, Mrs. Laura Bush Says

U.S. first lady visits World Vision-led program in Zambia


Contact: Media, Geraldine Ryerson-Cruz, 202-615-2608; Brian Peterson, 407-491-2399, both of World Vision


LUSAKA, Zambia, July 2 /Standard Newswire/ -- The dedication of thousands of ordinary Zambians, aided by financial support and training from the U.S. and Zambian governments and partnerships with faith-based community programs and businesses, is the key to turning the tide against the twin epidemics of malaria and HIV/AIDS in this African nation, Mrs. Laura Bush said Thursday.


She spoke during her visit to Mututa Memorial Center in Zambia, which receives support from a Word Vision-led coalition funded by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The center helps train and support caregivers in Chainda, a community near the capital. Mrs. Bush viewed the center's activities in helping distribute 500,000 mosquito bed nets to Zambia's most vulnerable households.


"It's an unprecedented partnership between governments, business and religious groups to reduce the suffering caused by HIV/AIDS and malaria," Mrs. Bush said of the cooperation between the U.S. and Zambian governments and private sector in a unique approach to tackling the diseases in this hard-hit country. "The determination of citizens throughout Zambia" help make possible daily miracles of rescuing dying people through home-based care and access to treatment, she said.


Mrs. Bush was joined by her daughter Jenna Bush, Zambian First lady Maureen Mwanawasa and American Idol finalist Melinda Doolittle. While at the center, they participated in an assembly line of caregiver kits and bed nets for distribution by Zambian caregivers.


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, a consortium of humanitarian agencies in Zambia. Led by World Vision, the group 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 (Reaching HIV/AIDS Affected People with Integrated Development and Support) has become a model of how home-based care is revolutionizing aid in rural Africa. The program is funded by a $57 million commitment from the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The coalition includes World Vision, Africare, CARE International, Catholic Relief Services, Expanded Church Response and the Salvation Army.


"This is a day to celebrate the commitment of our 12,000 volunteer caregivers who on a weekly basis visit more than 180,000 homes, bringing hope and practical assistance to those struggling with the impact of HIV/AIDS and malaria," said World Vision's Bruce Wilkinson, who is chief of the RAPIDS coalition.


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