Over the last decade, American donations to fight malaria in Africa have saved the lives of nearly two million children, according to a new analysis of mortality rates in 32 countries there.
The study, published by PLOS Medicine this month, looked at the long-term effects of the President’s Malaria Initiative, a program started by President George W. Bush in 2005 that has spent over $500 million a year since 2010.
The results debunk one of the persistent myths of foreign aid: that it has no effect because more children survive each year anyway as economies improve.
The researchers — economists from the University of North Carolina and Harvard — looked at death rates for children under 5, contrasting the 19 countries that get American malaria aid (mostly in the form of mosquito nets, house spraying and malaria pills) with 13 countries that do not.
They adjusted the data to filter out neonatal deaths and lives saved by other medical interventions, such as childhood vaccines supplied by donors or H.I.V. drugs paid for by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, or by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which was also initiated by Mr. Bush.
They found that countries helped by the malaria initiative had 16 percent fewer deaths in that age group, which amounts to about 1.7 million lives of babies and toddlers saved since the program began, said Harsha Thirumurthy, a health economist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the lead author…