When I was confronted by the warriors I was wondering whether I had done, or Australia had done, something to offend the local community, but I was relieved when those beautiful friendly girls offered us garlands of flowers. And it's wonderful to be here today. This is my first visit to Solomon Islands and your warm welcome is one that Helena and I will long remember.
One of the reasons I am here is to see how, in this province, you're providing health services to people. It's important to get out and see for yourself what's happening on the ground and in that spirit I am here today.
The battle against malaria is very very important. We're all aware that Solomon Islands still has one of the highest malaria rates in the region and we're aware of what malaria does. It takes people out of work and out of schools; it leaves them vulnerable to other diseases. It curbs the healthy lifespan of older people. So if we can eliminate malaria here, we can produce a strong healthy community where children can attend school and adults return to work. That's why we are involved in this partnership with you. That's why Australia is committed to working with you, to see that threat of malaria eliminated. We want to be a good neighbour, a good friend, a good partner. And to see that you and your families can live and achieve without the threat of malaria.
I want to say that the Australia Partnership for Development is now an important part of the life of Solomon Islands. We know that by working in partnership we can achieve far more for the future of this country and learn from each other to strengthen our already strong ties. Solomon Islands can be very very proud of the progress achieved in eliminating malaria across the country. We hope this success will be repeated in other health priorities as well, for the good health of all Solomon Islanders and the strength and growth of all communities. But let's beat malaria now. And we're with you in this battle.
I'm using my visit here to announce that to seek the long-term elimination of malaria in Solomon Islands, Australia will start with an additional $15 million over four years for bed nets, for mosquito spraying and for community education. We can reduce the incidence of this disease and hold the Solomons experience up as one that can inspire other people around the world.
Thank you very much for your warm welcome today.
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