Bush Discusses PEPFAR During Visits to Rwanda, Ghana
President Bush on Tuesday during a visit to Rwanda discussed the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the President's Malaria Initiative and other foreign aid programs, the New Times/AllAfrica.com reports (Gahigana, New Times/AllAfrica.com, 2/19). Bush also discussed PEPFAR, PMI and other development programs on Wednesday during a visit to Ghana (Feller, AP/Google.com, 2/20). Bush and first lady Laura Bush are on a five-country tour of Africa in part to highlight programs funded by PEPFAR and PMI (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/19).
In Rwanda, Bush met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame. At a ceremony to dedicate a new U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda's capital, Bush said he believes it is in U.S. "national interests" and "moral interest" to "help people" through programs such as PEPFAR and PMI. He added that the programs are a "mission of mercy" (Musoni, New Times, 2/20). More than 100,000 people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS in Rwanda have received care and support services through PEPFAR programs, the New Times/AllAfrica.com reports (New Times/AllAfrica.com, 2/19).
Irish singer and advocate Bob Geldolf during a press conference in Rwanda said that Bush "has done more than any other president so far." He added, "This is the triumph of American policy really" (Harper/Ward, Washington Times, 2/20).
In Ghana, Bush met with Ghanaian President John Kufuor to discuss the fight against HIV and malaria, humanitarian and development issues, and regional security (Schwarz, VOA News, 2/19). Bush is scheduled to visit Liberia, the last country on his tour, on Thursday before returning to the U.S. (AP/Google.com, 2/20).
Several news organizations recently published articles examining Bush's visit to Africa and PEPFAR. Summaries appear below.
Christian Science Monitor: The article examines how although PEPFAR is "still the largest and most comprehensive program for HIV patients in history," some critics claim that the program would be more effective at fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS if it was "not as devoted" to "faith-based message[s] of abstinence and marital fidelity" (Baldauf/Moore, Christian Science Monitor, 2/20).
CQ Weekly: The article examines the debate over PEPFAR reauthorization among congressional lawmakers. Several congressional Democrats have proposed changes to PEPFAR that would allow for family planning programs aimed at reducing the spread of HIV. However, many Congressional Republicans are opposed to the proposals and say the changes would fund abortion services (Graham-Silverman, CQ Weekly, 2/18).
TIME: At the start of his visit to Africa, Bush said that the trip was about "heralding good leadership, it's heralding honest government and is focusing our help on local folks' efforts to deal with malaria and AIDS." Alex de Waal, program director at the Social Science Research Council, said that Bush had "exceeded expectations" on Africa. Ayesha Kajee of the International Human Rights Exchange at the University of the Witwatersrand said, "Most analysts agree that there has been a far more concentrated Africa policy under Bush than under previous administrations" (Perry, TIME, 2/19). TIME also recently interviewed Laura Bush (Park, TIME, 2/18).
Washington Post: Although PEPFAR programs have "extended the lives of hundreds of thousands of people" living with HIV/AIDS in Africa, the epidemic is still spreading in areas "worst-hit" by the virus, the Post reports. In Southern Africa, prevention programs focus too heavily on HIV prevention strategies -- such as condoms, testing and abstinence -- and do not encourage proven strategies -- such as male circumcision, monogamy and increased access to contraception for women -- according to the Post (Timberg, Washington Post, 2/20).