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.
The study was not commissioned or paid for by the malaria agency, Dr. Thirumurthy added.
“We thought it was essential to evaluate how P.M.I. was working,” he said, referring to the President’s Malaria Initiative. “We gave them a heads-up that we were doing the analysis, but we didn’t share the results with them till they were in print.”
“I welcome this independent external analysis,” said Rear Adm. R Timothy Ziemer, coordinator of the initiative from its inception until early this year. “P.M.I.’s effective approach demonstrates to all what can be accomplished in fighting malaria with U.S. leadership.”
In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Eran Bendavid, a health-policy specialist at Stanford University, called the study’s conclusions “striking.”
Health-related foreign aid, he noted, amounts to less than a penny of every taxpayer dollar spent but pays dividends in two ways: Relatively small contributions save many lives, and countries that receive such aid have overwhelmingly favorable views of the United States. In the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes & Trends surveys over the last 15 years, Dr. Bendavid said in an email, 75 percent or more of residents of Ghana, Kenya, Ivory Coast and Senegal usually said they regard the United States favorably.