First Lady Laura Bush To Highlight PEPFAR, Malaria Programs During Trip to Africa
First lady Laura Bush on Monday is scheduled to leave on her third visit to Africa in an effort to highlight programs funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the President's Malaria Initiative, the Washington Post reports. Bush will visit Mali, Mozambique, Senegal and Zambia during the five-day trip. The trip "should show U.S. taxpayers the president's support of pressing humanitarian causes," Bush said during a recent CNN interview, adding, "We want the American people to know, because it's their taxpayer money that's doing it." She also said that the HIV/AIDS pandemic does "seem like an insurmountable problem, but the fact is, you can measure progress because you can see how many people actually get treatment." According to Bush, mother-to-child HIV transmission has been all but eliminated in the U.S. -- an achievement that can be replicated elsewhere (Fletcher, Washington Post, 6/25).
Bush during the trip also will deliver five scholarships to girls in Senegal to mark the launch of a program that will provide 555,000 scholarships to elementary schools in the region by 2010, the Chicago Tribune reports. "You have to give [the Bush] administration a lot of credit on Africa," Princeton Lyman -- senior fellow for Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a former ambassador to various African countries and former senior State Department official -- said. He added, "The AIDS commitment is rather extraordinary, and there is no question that it has galvanized resources more than anything before it." Tom Hart, director of governmental relations for DATA, said that the president "deserves credit for helping break a political mold in the U.S. response to AIDS," adding, "The disease is still outpacing us, but there is a political sea change in Washington in attitudes toward Africa. This president has absolutely contributed to that."
Some advocates say that money for education programs -- especially in a region where education and preventing mother-to-child transmission are critical to HIV/AIDS efforts aimed at the next generation -- is inadequate, the Tribune reports. "The scholarships have certainly helped some girls," Gene Sperling, director of the Center for Universal Education, said, adding, "But there is really little sense in the world that the U.S. has helped any African nation take a big step forward on education" (Silva, Chicago Tribune, 6/25).
NPR's "All Things Considered" on Friday included a discussion with Bush about PEPFAR and her trip to Africa (Norris, "All Things Considered," NPR, 6/22). Audio and a partial transcript of the segment are available online. In addition, PRI's "The World" on Friday included a discussion with Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, about funding for HIV/AIDS programs in Africa under the Bush administration (Werman, "The World," PRI, 6/22). Audio of the segment is available online.