Bush Announces Initiatives Targeting Malaria, Education, Women’s Rights in Africa
President Bush on Thursday announced a $1.7 billion aid package for Africa aimed at fighting malaria and improving education and women's rights on the continent, USA Today reports (Keen/Sternberg, USA Today, 7/1). Bush made the aid proposals ahead of next week's summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in Gleneagles, Scotland, where British Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to urge leaders to double aid to Africa to $25 billion annually by 2010 (Holland, Reuters, 6/30). The majority of the total proposed aid -- $1.2 billion over the next five years -- will be used to reduce by 50% the number of malaria-related deaths in 15 African countries (Stevenson, New York Times, 7/1). The initiative will provide insecticide-treated nets, indoor spraying and artemisinin-based combination therapies and will begin in Tanzania, Uganda and Angola next year if funding is approved by Congress (Baker, Washington Post, 7/1). The initiative aims to operate in at least four more countries by 2007 and at least five more in 2008 (Loven, AP/San Gabriel Valley Tribune, 7/1). The initiative also will work with a similar malaria program run by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Bush said he will ask other leaders at the G8 summit to join the initiative (Vieth/Weyl, Los Angeles Times, 7/1).
Education, Women's Status
Bush also called for $400 million over the next five years for an initiative to improve the quality of and access to education in Africa. The program will train teachers, provide scholarships to girls, distribute textbooks and expand job training. In addition, Bush announced a $55 million, three-year program to help combat sexual violence against women and improve their health and legal status in four African countries (New York Times, 7/1). In a fact sheet, the White House said the $55 million program would complement ongoing U.S. efforts to curb the spread of HIV and fight human trafficking (White House fact sheet, 6/30). According to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, the aid package will increase U.S. assistance to Africa from $4.3 billion in 2004 to at least $8.6 billion by 2010 (Los Angeles Times, 7/1).
"We seek progress in Africa and throughout the developing world because conscience demands it. Americans believe that human rights and the worth of human lives are not determined by race or nationality or determined by distance. We believe that every life matters and every person counts," Bush said (Washington Post, 7/1). Gates Foundation President Patty Stonesifer said that Bush's malaria program "will rapidly increase global efforts to fight this disease. Malaria is the number one killer of children in Africa, with one child dying every 30 seconds. (I)t is a positive sign that the global community is finally recognizing this" (Sammon, Washington Times, 7/1). The World Health Organization, the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and UNICEF also welcomed Bush's aid proposals (Washington Post, 7/1). However, some advocacy groups said that the aid money was coming from already allocated funds and likely will be rejected by Congress, according to London's Guardian (Elliott/Wintour, Guardian, 7/1). According to the Global AIDS Alliance, the malaria funding will replenish money Bush cut in the current year's budget (Washington Post, 7/1). "The U.S. should measure its proposals against what is needed on all these issues and put in its fair share," GAA Executive Director Paul Zeitz said, adding, "That would effectively challenge other nations to also contribute their fair share. Sadly, there is little sign the U.S. is shifting to a more modern, collaborative approach to aid. We need to move away from grandstanding to actually achieving the Millennium Development Goals" (GAA release, 6/30). Gene Sperling, director of the Center for Universal Education, said, "It's another step forward but a very, very small and disappointing step in light of the hopes that something major would happen on education in Africa at this [G8] summit" (New York Times, 7/1).
The New York Times and Washington Post on Friday published editorials in response to Bush's announcement. They are summarized below.
New York Times: Bush's malaria pledge "represents an admirable start" to addressing health issues in Africa, including HIV/AIDS, a Times editorial says. Although malaria is "finally getting the high-level attention it deserves," the United States should collaborate with other wealthy nations to "maximize" the effectiveness of its campaign, the editorial says (New York Times, 7/1).
Washington Post: The United States "ought to do more for" Africa, including increasing aid for health programs, peacekeeping and good governance on the continent, Bush "rightly" said on Thursday, according to a Post editorial. Bush's budget request for fiscal year 2006 reduced malaria funding, and "he will be able to afford the first year of his new program only because Congress insisted on boosting the number," the editorial says. However, the majority of the program's cost will come in 2009 and 2010, and Bush might try to fund it "by skimping on U.S. payments" to the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria," according to the Post (Washington Post, 7/1).
Several broadcast programs reported on Bush's initiative:
- APM's "Marketplace": The segment includes comments from Nancy Birdsall, president of the Center for Global Development, and Ann-Louise Colgan, director of policy analysis and communications at Africa Action (Tong, "Marketplace," APM, 6/30). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- "The World": The program -- a production of BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston -- includes comments from Bush and Hilary Benn, Britain's secretary of state for international development (Clark, "The World," PRI, 6/30). The complete segment is available online in Windows Media.
- "The World": The segment includes comments from George Ayittey, an economist in residence at American University; Birahim Seck, president of the New Partnership for Africa's Development Council; and Tunde Obadina, a Nigerian writer living in Britain (Costello, "The World," PRI, 6/30). The complete segment is available online in Windows Media.
A kaisernetwork.org HealthCast and transcript of Bush's announcement is available online. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.