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General News of Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Source: GNA

Bush pledges $350m to fight neglected diseases

Accra, Feb. 20, GNA - US President George Walker Bush on Wednesday announced a 350-million-dollar fund over five years to fight glaucoma and other neglected tropical diseases in Africa.

In addition, America would provide 17 million dollars to Ghana to support the country to roll back the malaria disease. The money is meant for the purchase and distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets and anti-malarial drugs.

This package comes at a time reported cases of malaria in the country is said to be up by about 13 per cent.

President Bush, who is Ghana on the fourth-leg of his six-day five-nation tour of Africa, was addressing a joint press conference with President John Agyekum Kufuor after holding bilateral talks at the Castle, Osu.

He said it was unacceptable to standby and watch a generation wiped out by diseases and that he was looking forward to work with African Leaders to save lives.

The US President has already visited Benin, Tanzania and Rwanda and is scheduled to fly to Liberia from Ghana on Thursday to wrap up the tour during which he is reviewing the progress of American funded efforts to advance economic development and combat HIV/AIDS and other treatable diseases on the Continent.

He has called on Congress to double funding to 30 billion dollars for his Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which has enabled about 1.2 million Africans to get anti-retroviral drugs for the management of AIDS.

President Bush said the strategy of abstinence, being faithful to one's partner and condoms use was working, citing Uganda where the results were measurable.

He said as a strong believer in the ideology of fighting extremism and hopelessness, he was of the firm conviction that helping to fight diseases, promoting free trade and business to reduce poverty, were crucial for the success of this crusade.

Earlier, he paid glowing tribute to President Kufuor, saying he was one of the most respected international Leaders, who had not only represented his country well but Africa.

It was on the account of this that Ghana was benefiting from 547-million dollar development assistance under the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA).

"We believe in supporting Governments that fight corruption, invest in their people, promote good governance, private sector development and fight poverty." President Kufuor described President Bush as a "friend of Africa in need", who has shown particular understanding of the affairs of Africa and Ghana.

Evidence of this, he said, was found in the colossal amount of 45 billion dollars, he has committed to the fight against HIV/AIDS as well as the length he was going to help to combat malaria in Africa. Added to these is the 547-million-dollar MCA fund to Ghana the biggest grant ever to have been received by the country since political independence to modernize agriculture and reduce poverty. President Kufuor also spoke of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) under which Ghana qualified to export 6,400 commodities to US markets duty-free and quota-free.

He said Ghana stood with and appreciated the US stance against terrorism, noting that some of the victims of the September 11 attack were Ghanaians. President Kufuor also responded to concerns about China's growing influence in Africa, saying, China was coming not as a colonial power and that Africa would not succumb to dictates and imposition. He said China had proved to be quite competitive and that so far, her engagements had been to their mutual benefit. 20 Feb. 08

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