President George Bush's legacy in Africa: The Fight against AIDS

Former Senate Majority leader (Republican, Tennessee), Bill Frist, M.D., has written, “Commentary: Bush saved 10 million lives“, on George Bush’s fight against HIV and AIDS in Africa.

The bottom line is: George Bush is a healer.

First, a surprise proclamation came on January 29, 2003.

I was in the first row in the House chamber when three quarters through his State of the Union address, the president boldly said: “I ask the Congress to commit $15 billion over the next five years … to turn the tide against AIDS in the most afflicted nations of Africa and the Caribbean” and “lead the world in sparing innocent people from a plague of nature.”

Perhaps Africans don’t know too much about how George Bush used the funding of the US government to aid Africa, as Frist continues:

In my annual medical mission trips to Africa during the Bush administration, I saw the cost of treatment for HIV with life-saving antiretrovirals (ARVs) drop from $4,000 a year to $125. The number of Africans on ARVs jumped from 50,000 to 2.1 million.

And the multiplier effect of Bush making this a presidential global priority was reflected thereafter in every meeting I had as Senate majority leader with the world leaders, including those from Russia, China and India. If you were dealing with the United States, you’d better have made HIV a national priority, because we had.

And it was more than HIV. Six months ago, Tom Daschle, Mike Huckabee, John Podesta, Cindy McCain and I (yes, we five of different persuasions do work together!) went to Rwanda on a fact-finding trip.

Our visits with villagers all over the country opened our eyes to how Bush’s five-year, $1.2 billion effort to combat malaria has provided 4 million insecticide-treated bed nets and 7 million life-saving drug therapies to vulnerable people. Yes, George Bush the healer.

Future historians will also note what today’s pundits ignore: total US government development aid to Africa quadrupled from $1.3 billion in 2001 to more than $5 billion in 2008.

Frist concludes:

I’ve had the privilege of knowing George W. Bush personally and as president. I have seen his passions. Naturally, he will be judged in the short term for his role in waging the war on terror, keeping America safe since 9/11 and acting on his belief in promoting liberty aboard.

Over time, however, it is the foundations he laid for healing. for the most part ignored by mainstream media, that I am confident will be his enduring legacy.

What’s more, the Bush administration doubled foreign aid worldwide over the past eight years. You have to go back to the Truman years to match that.

If few people know about this, it’s called media bias; everyone has been led by the media to be so excited about Obama and the new age that his presidency will inaugurate.  Let’s wait and see if Obama, whose father is a Luo from Kenya, will do as much to help Africa:  But don’t hold your breath:  The school in his father’s village is still waiting for promised aid, and his half-brother claims to live in a hut on $1 per month.

Hat tip:  Danny Huddleston

Living Hope Community Centre, South Africa

Living Hope Community Centre, South Africa

P.S.:  Living Hope Community Centre receives part of its funding from the US AIDS relief.  We know about it because one of their voluteers, Don Sayers, a missionary with Emmanuel International, is partially supported by Emmanuel Anglican Church.

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