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Africa’s Good Friend
Posted on Feb 27, 2009
In Uganda, where Coutinho works, 110,000 people are under treatment, and 2 million have HIV tests each year, a huge difference from the 10,000 treated and 400,000 tested annually before PEPFAR. According to Coutinho, “The money comes mostly from PEPFAR, and also from a United Nations fund to which the United States contributes.”
Indeed, Bush was honored on the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day with the International Medal of Peace, given by the Saddleback Church’s Rev. Rick Warren on behalf of the Global Peace Coalition during the Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health.
At the 2008 Bishop John T. Walker Memorial Dinner, Africare, the oldest and largest black-run African aid organization, awarded the group’s Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award to Bush for the work done for Africa by his administration and family, and described that work as “a labor of love.”
Barack Obama acknowledged Bush’s AIDS relief efforts in taped remarks to the Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health. “I salute President Bush for his leadership in crafting a plan for AIDS relief in Africa and backing it up with funding dedicated to saving lives and preventing the spread of the disease,” said Obama, who went on to promise to continue working “to address the crisis around the world.”
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When AEI was launched in 2002, Bush committed to provide $600 million over eight years to increase access to quality basic education in 39 sub-Saharan countries through scholarships, textbooks and teacher training programs. Thanks to AEI, Deddeh has put her pain behind her. She now plans to go to college.
So far, the Africa Education Initiative has trained 700,000 teachers, distributed more than 10 million textbooks and provided hundreds of thousands of scholarships to help girls go to school. By 2010, AEI will have distributed over 15 million textbooks, trained nearly 1 million teachers and provided 550,000 scholarships for girls. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates that, overall, 80 million African children will have benefited from AEI by 2010.
African girls like Esther Gohole are beginning to dream. Says Esther, “My favorite subject is math. I want to be a pilot when I grow up.” Hawa Hussein says, “My favorite subject is biology. … I would like to be a medical doctor.” Phales Malisope wants to be a scientist.
Dr. Sarah Wright, chief education officer of USAID in Kenya, supports the dreams of these Kenyan girls. She says: “Education is a key element in long-term sustainable development. If children are educated, particularly the girl child, she is more likely to send her children to school, they are more likely to be healthy, they are more likely to be more productive citizens as a result of the influence of their educated mother.”
Rougiatou Diallo, a mother of two in the Guédiawaye district near Dakar, Senegal, is a beneficiary of the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), a $1.2 billion, five-year plan to reduce deaths caused by malaria by 50 percent in 15 African countries. The program was launched in June 2005 by President Bush. Diallo received an anti-malaria bed net when she took her children to participate in a combined micronutrient and bed net campaign in May 2007. She was so pleased with the free net that “came from the Americans” that her family bought a second net at a nearby health center to help protect her and her six children from malaria. In seven months of using the nets, she said, no one in her family came down with the mosquito-borne disease.
In addition to providing bed nets, the malaria initiative supports indoor spraying of insecticide as well as drugs and medicine to treat the disease. Manufacture of mosquito nets, treated with a special insecticide, can also provide employment for local people.
According to the United Nations, malaria is the main cause of death for children in Africa, killing a child every 30 seconds. The World Health Organization also argues that one in five childhood deaths in Africa is due to the effects of the disease. Pregnant women and small children are advised to sleep under mosquito barriers treated with insecticide, but many African mothers, such as Rakiatou Touré of Kabara, Mali, cannot afford a net, which cost $10. The PMI has stepped in. Touré got a net through PMI. “Without this program I would never have been able to afford a net. Now I sleep well, and my kids aren’t bothered by mosquito bites,” she says. It is estimated that the PMI has already reached 25 million people in sub-Saharan Africa alone.
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