George W. Bush was the most pro-Africa President in history.
It is a simple fact.
No less liberal experts than Bob Geldof and Bono of U2 say the same thing. Mr. Bush made a commitment to Africa during his 2000 campaign. And lo and behold, he kept his promise! In itself, that is unique.
So what did Bush do that was so great?
- Bush who initiated the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with cross-party support led by Senators John Kerry and Bill Frist. In 2003, only 50,000 Africans were on HIV antiretroviral drugs — and they had to pay for their own medicine. Today, 1.3 million are receiving medicines free of charge.
- The U.S. also contributes one-third of the money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — which treats another 1.5 million.
- Bush increased the US congtribution to 50% of all food aid
- On a seven-day trip through Africa in 2008, Bush announced a fantastic new $350 million fund for other neglected tropical diseases that can be easily eradicated; a program to distribute 5.2 million mosquito nets to Tanzanian kids; and contracts worth around $1.2 billion in Tanzania and Ghana from the Millennium Challenge Account, another initiative of the Bush Administration.
- Africare, the leading United States charitable organization helping Africa, awarded President George W. Bush the 2008 Bishop John T. Walker Humanitarian Service Award.
So what were the real, tangible results of the Bush Africa policy?
- Medical experts state that Bush policies toward AIDS in Africa has saved 1.2 million lives since 2001.
- The Bush malaria initiative has reached 25 million in Africa, and has a projected savings of 2 million lives over the next decade.
- Other drug advancements and funding is estimated to have saved approximately 1 million lives from other disease.
So we are talking the the Bush initiatives will have save upwards of 4 million African lives over the past decade.
That said, where do we go from here?
- Continue and expand the Bush initatives on Africa, especially AIDS and malaria. Malaria could be potentially wiped out on the continent by 2020, using the right methods.
- Promote democracy and maintenance of the peace, especially using African Union troops and personnel.
- Continue to place pressure on regimes that don’t value human rights, such as Zimbabwe and the Sudan.
- Place pressure on major powers like China, in order to get change in the Sudan.
- Eliminate piracy using international naval powers.
- Continue to restrict war diamonds.
Africa is a long way from being perfect. Corruption, poverty, illness, and war still ravage the continent. But lives can be saved, and America can help lead the way.
Barack Obama would be lucky to have as much success in Africa has his predecessor.