President Bush and first lady Laura Bush are hosting a summit called the "Challenge of Malaria in Africa," which brings together international experts, non-governmental organizations, corporations and several African organizations to discuss measures for controlling the disease.
"This is a disease that's preventable," Mrs. Bush told The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm. "We had malaria in the United States. In fact, the story is that Washington was a hardship post for diplomats when there was malaria on the Potomac. We have eradicated it in the United States generations ago, so people don't have a memory of it."
The summit will also be attended by Melinda Gates, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Margaret Chan, the new director-general of the U.N. World Health Organization. It focuses on raising malaria awareness, mobilizing large organizations to help fight the disease and spurring grassroots efforts to take action against the disease.
Mrs. Bush said people can help through "groups like Malaria No More, which is a way people in the United States can give $10 to buy mosquito nets to save a life."
"If a child can give $10 in the United States, they can save the life of a child in Africa," Mrs. Bush said. "That's especially sweet and a direct way to reach people in Africa."
At the summit, President Bush will announce which African countries will receive malaria funding as part of the government's $1.2 billion initiative. The Gates Foundation is donating $83 million to fight the disease.
"The President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) was introduced in 2005, in its first three target countries, including Angola and Tanzania," Mrs. Bush said. "In Tanzania, some communities there, that have already receives PMI funds in the last year had 450-something cases of malaria and then in this last year, only eight. So with very strategic targeting, using the nets, using direct spraying and educating people ... you can eradicate it."
Meanwhile, President Bush continues to be criticized about his handling of the war in Iraq. Many Americans do not believe that he will cooperate with the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. The president says he will announce a new course of action early next year.
"He's meeting with groups," Mrs. Bush said. "Of course, he has already heard the Iraq Study Group's proposals; met with the pentagon yesterday. His new secretary (of defense), Bob Gates, will be sworn in next week and give him a chance to work as well and not preempt him with the announcement earlier … I suspect there will be a very good strategy for going ahead, but I also think that strategy will include victory."