First Lady Laura Bush Pledges U.S. Support for HIV/AIDS, Education Initiatives in Africa
First lady Laura Bush on Tuesday in Dakar, Senegal, began a four-nation tour of Africa and pledged U.S. support for HIV/AIDS and education programs on the continent, Reuters reports (Tattersall, Reuters, 6/26).
Bush is on her third visit to Africa to highlight programs funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the President's Malaria Initiative. She also plans to 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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/25).
Bush on Tuesday in Dakar emphasized that curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS also involves addressing malnutrition and malaria in Africa. "It's often overlooked that one of the essential things in the treatment of AIDS or HIV is good nutrition," Bush said after visiting a hospital garden in Dakar where produce is grown to supplement HIV-positive people's meals. Bush also distributed insecticide-treated nets to curb the spread of malaria. Both the garden and ITN programs have received U.S. funding (AP/International Herald Tribune, 6/26). Bush also visited a U.S.-funded clinic and primary school in Dakar, where she called on African governments to fund education. "Investment in education, no matter how significant, is always worth it," Bush said, adding, "By investing in education, governments meet their other fundamental obligations to improve opportunities for children and families, to strengthen their economies and to keep their citizens in good health" (Reuters, 6/26).
Bush on Wednesday is scheduled to visit sites in Maputo, Mozambique, where authorities are using funds from PMI to spray house walls with the pesticide DDT to curb the spread of malaria. She leaves Wednesday evening for neighboring Zambia and then will visit Mali (AP/International Herald Tribune, 6/27).
The Chicago Tribune on Wednesday examined efforts in Senegal to teach people living with HIV/AIDS to grow their own food as "part of a holistic treatment in which improved nutrition makes antiretroviral drugs more effective" (Silva, Chicago Tribune, 6/27).
NPR's "News & Notes" on Tuesday included a discussion with NPR Africa correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton about Bush's visit to the continent, including appearances related to HIV/AIDS (Cox, "News & Notes," NPR, 6/26). Audio of the segment is available online.