President Bush visited a hospital today in Tanzania, where U.S. funds are helping to combat Africa's twin scourges of AIDS and malaria. The administration hopes the president's African tour will put the spotlight on American medical and education aid to the continent.
Among the various U.S. projects in Africa are malaria vaccine studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health among the Malinke people of Mali. A recent visit to a NIH-funded facility in the village of Bancoumana showed that the research program has been a boon to the desperately poor people of the village.
The NIH is testing a malaria vaccine there, a drug that has already been tested for safety on adult Americans. The trials in Mali are intended to show whether the vaccine is effective in a setting rife with malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
In exchange for participating in the clinical trial, Malians are given access to modern health care that's not otherwise available.
But there are often ethical questions inherent in clinical drug trials conducted in Third World Countries.