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Carter tackles malaria in Ethiopia

Former United States president Jimmy Carter on Wednesday announced distribution of thousands of insecticide- treated mosquito nets in impoverished Ethiopia, in a drive that could save up to 100 000 lives annually.

The distribution is part of a partnership with Addis Ababa to distribute 20-million nets by July in the impoverished Horn of Africa nation, where medical services are ill-equipped to deal with the situation.

"We just embarked on a new programme of working closely with the government of Ethiopia concerning malaria," Carter told a press conference here.

"To put into perspective the importance of this disease, last year about 130 000 people died from HIV/Aids in Ethiopia. More than twice as many -- 270 000 -- people died from malaria," he said in a statement.

"Malaria preys on Ethiopia's youth, destroying lives and jeopardising the country's future," said Carter, whose centre distributed about 3 000 nets in the country.

"It is our goal to help provide long-lasting insecticidetreated bed nets, free of charge, to all members of atrisk communities to help put a stop to the needless deaths caused by this mosquito-transmitted disease." Experts estimate that the nets could save up to 100 000 lives per year in Ethiopia.

In addition to diseases, Ethiopia faces chronic food shortages and political turmoil. As scientists labour to secure a vaccine or a revolutionary cure, the disease has continued to impose a heavy economic burden on poor tropical countries.

Health workers have emphasised preventive measures against the disease that kills around a million people every year. More than 80% of cases occur in sub-Saharan Africa, with children under five and pregnant women at the highest risk. Sapa-AFP


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