Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Former President Carter travels to Hispaniola

Former President Jimmy Carter is traveling to the island of Hispaniola to begin a malaria fighting initiative through his foundation. The island contains the two countries Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The goals for the new malaria fight is for the two governments to work together to fight the disease, because mosquitoes have no respect for nations.... in a manner of speaking.

From the Associated Press article hosted at Google News, writer Greg Bluesteon interviewedthe former president. More information about the malaria project and much more can be found at the Carter Center website.

Former President Jimmy Carter will visit the two countries Wednesday in hopes of spurring their leaders to join an island-wide pact to fight the disease.

Carter will also check in on the progress of a $200,000 pilot project established by the nonprofit Carter Center that local health officials say has helped curb the spread of malaria.

The pilot project in Ouanaminthe and neighboring Dajabon, in the Dominican Republic, purchases nets treated with insecticide for residents to hang over their beds, microscopes to help lab technicians diagnose malaria samples and motorbikes so field workers can zip along cramped alleys to test and treat residents.

The center's goal is to remove from this corner of the world the last vestiges of malaria, a disease that causes high fevers and flulike symptoms and kills more than one million people each year, most of them in Africa. It also would eliminate the threat of the disease spreading to nearby islands, including Jamaica and the Bahamas.

The goal is to show the leaders of the two countries that it's more costly to neglect malaria than to erase it, said Dr. Don Hopkins, the director of the Carter Center's health programs. But he said only a combined effort between the two countries will eliminate the disease.

"We want to help both sides raise their sights up from the day-to-day battle with these two diseases and agree on the aspiration that where they should be trying to go is an ultimate target date to eliminate both diseases from the island," he said.

In an interview before the trip, Carter said he's committed to traveling to "the most distant and small and isolated and poverty-stricken villages in the deserts, in the jungles and in the poorest countries on Earth" and wiping out diseases that have long been distant memories in richer countries.

"It's a very different kind of life than any person could sort of do while still in the White House," Carter said.

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