Former First Lady, Retired MLB All-Star Join World Vision's 'End Malaria' Council

Former U.S. first lady Laura Bush and retired Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher Rick Sutcliffe have joined the advisory council of World Vision's "End Malaria" campaign, which aims to reduce illnesses and deaths from a disease that many say shouldn't be as deadly as it is.

"Each of us can do our part whether we are public leaders, notable athletes or simply concerned Americans, and we thank our advisors for dedicating their time and talents to combat this leading cause of death for babies and young children in the developing world," stated World Vision president Richard Stearns, whose Christian humanitarian organization is working in 64 malaria-endemic countries. "This is a disease that can be prevented, treated and defeated."

According to reports, 350-500 million cases of malaria occur worldwide each year and each day malaria kills 3,000 children. In Africa, where 90 percent of malaria deaths occur, the disease is the number one killer of children.

Though malaria is both preventable and treatable, many die because prevention and treatment tools are not readily available to the people who need them most. Simple solutions such as sleeping under a treated bed net, spraying insecticide inside homes, and using the right anti-malarial drugs dramatically reduce the impact of malaria.

Last year, to boost prevention and treatment activities in hard-hit areas and strengthen advocacy to improve government policies and increase resources, World Vision launched the End Malaria campaign.

As part of its efforts, World Vision is extensively distributing insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent infectious mosquito bites and works in partnerships to ensure nets, prevention training and medicines are available in impoverished communities where needed.

The organization is also advocating for an increase in U.S. government funding to combat malaria to at least one billion dollars a year.

"I strongly believe in World Vision's mission to end malaria and make the world a better place for children. It is a privilege to join them in this campaign," said Sutcliffe. "Working together as a team with supporters at home and a strong presence in the field, we can strike out this preventable, killer disease."

In making their recent commitment, Bush and Sutcliffe join Malaria No More CEO Scott Case, Congressman Donald Payne (D-NJ), and Ray Chambers, the first U.N. Special Envoy for Malaria, in assisting and advising efforts to fight malaria and save the lives of millions of children around the world.

The End Malaria campaign aims to reduce illnesses and deaths from malaria, contributing to a 75 percent reduction in malaria cases, with the global end goal of nearly zero preventable malaria deaths by 2015.

The initiative also focuses on raising awareness of the global impact of malaria in the United States to garner new resources and expand the growing movement to end malaria.

Additional members are expected to be added to the campaign's advisory council.