President Bush Voices Support for Increased Funding To Fight HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria in U.N. General Assembly Speech
President Bush on Tuesday during a speech before the U.N. General Assembly outlined an international "compassion" agenda that includes fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria worldwide, the Los Angeles Times reports (Reynolds/Farley, Los Angeles Times, 9/22). "Because we believe in human dignity, America and many nations have established a global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria," Bush said, adding, "America has undertaken a $15 billion effort to provide prevention and treatment and humane care in nations afflicted by AIDS, placing a special focus on 15 countries where the need is most urgent" (Speech text, 9/21). The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is a five-year, $15 billion program that directs funding to 12 African nations -- Botswana, Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia -- as well as Haiti, Guyana and Vietnam (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/14). Bush also called HIV/AIDS "the greatest health crisis of our time" and said that U.S. efforts to fight the disease will "bring new hope to those who have walked too long in the shadow of death" (Speech text, 9/21).
AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein said that "more than a year and a half after PEPFAR was first introduced, we believe fewer than 16,000 people are receiving life-saving antiretrovirals as a direct result of PEPFAR -- far, far short of the president's stated goal of half a million people in treatment by the end of this month" (AHF release, 9/21). The Global AIDS Alliance said in a release that Bush's proposed annual contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is one-fifth of what U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan requested of the United States at the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, in July. "It is outrageous that President Bush is claiming to support the Global Fund," GAA Executive Director Paul Zeitz, said, adding, "Europe has far outstripped the U.S. as a backer of the fund" (GAA release, 9/21).