First Lady Laura Bush Tours Zambia To Highlight U.S. HIV/AIDS Programs
First lady Laura Bush on Thursday in Lusaka, Zambia, began the third day of her four-nation tour of Africa by visiting an HIV/AIDS treatment center and launching a malaria campaign in the country, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports (AP/International Herald Tribune, 6/28).
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. Bush on Tuesday in Dakar, Senegal, emphasized that curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS also involves addressing malnutrition and malaria in Africa. She visited a hospital garden in Dakar where produce is grown to supplement HIV-positive people's meals and distributed insecticide-treated nets. Both the garden and ITN programs have received U.S. funding.
Bush also visited a U.S.-funded clinic and primary school in Dakar, where she called on African governments to fund education. Bush on Wednesday visited 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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/27).
While in Mozambique, Bush also announced a $507 million aid package from the U.S. aimed at curbing malaria and building roads, the AP/Tribune reports. While in Zambia, she is scheduled to visit Regiment School in Lusaka to watch students perform a skit about HIV/AIDS and meet with scholarship recipients. Bush has used her trip to highlight the role of faith-based organizations and will visit two such organizations in Zambia, according to the AP/Tribune. One of the organizations in Lusaka provides access to HIV/AIDS treatment, counseling and testing services (AP/International Herald Tribune, 6/28).
When Bush tours Lusaka on Thursday, she will visit a "unique, U.S.-funded project that taps a network of 12,000 Zambian HIV/AIDS volunteers" to distribute ITNs for malaria control, the Christian Science Monitor reports. According to the Monitor, half of the $2.5 million program is funded by U.S. corporations -- including Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and the NBA -- that are part of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Schatz, Christian Science Monitor, 6/28).
According to the AP/Tribune, Zambia received $149 million in PEPFAR funding in fiscal year 2006 and is expected to receive nearly $200 million in FY 2007. The country during the last several years has provided more than 90,000 people with access to antiretroviral drugs with help from the U.S. and other donors. Bush on Friday will travel to Mali (AP/International Herald Tribune, 6/28).
Related Opinion Piece
Extending U.S. funding for global HIV/AIDS programs is the "right thing to do," but it will be "catastrophic" if Congress does not provide a "much more substantial increase" for PEPFAR than President Bush's recent request for $30 billion, Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece. According to Zeitz, the "fine print shows that [President] Bush is really just extending AIDS funding at its current level for the next five years." The "need for effectively targeted U.S. assistance is growing, not leveling off," Zeitz writes. Therefore, "[l]eveling off funding ... makes a mockery of America's global leadership," he adds.
Zeitz writes that perhaps the next president "can go beyond the [public relations] spin and actually help the world get ahead of HIV/AIDS." He adds that some candidates "already are thinking boldly about repairing America's international standing through expanded foreign assistance." However, that "noble project will falter unless candidates base their proposals ... on what is actually needed to win the battle against" the HIV/AIDS pandemic, Zeitz writes (Zeitz, Los Angeles Times, 6/28).
Three broadcast programs on Wednesday reported on Bush's visit to Africa. Summaries appear below.
- ABC's "Good Morning America": The segment includes a discussion with Laura Bush (Cuomo, "Good Morning America," ABC, 6/27). Video of the segment is available online.
- CBS' "The Early Show": The segment includes a discussion with Laura Bush (Chen, "The Early Show," CBS, 6/27). Video of the segment and expanded CBS News coverage are available online.
- Fox News' "Fox & Friends": The segment includes a discussion with Laura Bush (Doocy, "Fox & Friends," Fox News, 6/27). Video of the segment is available online.