Politico :Obama, Bush & AIDS in Africa

In Global by AHF

Original Article

HABARI from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where President Obama will land shortly on the final stop of his seven-day Africa swing. The press corps is wheels down, headed to the State House for a press conference with President Jakaya Kikwetethat (9:40 a.m. ET) that will be Obama’s first event after the arrival ceremony. Light poles on the drive in from the airport are festooned with U.S. and Tanzanian flags. This morning’s edition of The Citizen, Dar’s English-language paper, has the banner headline: “Obamania.”

WashPost A1, “Bush’s legacy on AIDS trails Obama in Africa,” by Sudarsan Raghavan in Johannesburg and David Nakamura in Cape Town, South Africa: “As President Obama’s motorcade pulled up on Sunday to a community health center run by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in [Cape Town], people on the streets held signs that read “Thanks PEPFAR.” It was a reference to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, started by President George W. Bush. … [A]cross this continent, many Africans wish Obama was more like Bush in his social and health policies, particularly in the fight against HIV/AIDS — one of the former president’s signature foreign policy aid programs. Bush poured billions of dollars into the effort to combat the spread of the disease that once threatened to consume a generation of young Africans, and as Obama has spent two days touring South Africa, the shadow of his predecessor has trailed him.

“[In Tanzania, Obama] could wind up face to face with Bush, whose visit will overlap with Obama’s there the next two days. Bush’s wife, Laura, will participate in a First Ladies Summit hosted by the George W. Bush Foundation, and first lady Michelle Obama also will participate. White House aides suggested Sunday that the two men could appear with each other … For Obama, the success of Bush’s program has proved a tad awkward, as he has been mindful to praise his predecessor even as he tries to push forward on his administration’s own plans for new programs based on private investment from U.S. businesses. Flying to South Africa from Senegal this weekend, Obama told reporters that Bush ‘deserves enormous credit’ for the fight against HIV/AIDS, acknowledging that the program likely saved millions of lives. …

“But AIDS advocates on Sunday said that Obama administration budget cuts that have slashed hundreds of millions of dollars from PEPFAR threaten to turn back years of progress in the fight against the AIDS epidemic. Last year, the administration unveiled a budget that reduces AIDS funding globally by roughly $214 million, the first time an American president has reduced the U.S. commitment to fighting the epidemic since it broke out in the 1980s during the Reagan administration. … The administration has proposed an additional $50 million [PEPFAR] cut for 2014. …

“Privately, some administration officials bristle at the comparison to Bush, and Obama hinted at the frustration during his conversation with reporters on Air Force One. … ‘Given the budget constraints, for us to try to get the kind of money that President Bush was able to get out of the Republican House for massively scaled new foreign aid program is very difficult’ … White House officials said the … trip is designed to treat Africa as a more-equal partner, instead of the traditional donor-recipient relationship … Obama said the goal of U.S. policy … is to increase capacity for South Africa and other nations to manage their own programs to fight the disease, rather than rely largely on U.S. funding. … Administration officials note that the decreases in funding for PEPFAR have been made up by increases in funding to multilateral programs that tackle a variety of diseases … But AIDS advocates say such transfers still add up to an overall decline in U.S. government funding to tackle the global AIDS epidemic.”http://wapo.st/1b1iWDW

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