President George W. Bush on Monday discussed his administration’s AIDS relief policies, announcing that the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR, has exceeded its goal of assisting millions of victims and their families.
In comments delivered at the White House on Monday to mark World AIDS Day, President Bush reported that PEPFAR has already exceeded its goal of supporting treatment for two million people in five years.
Previously, only about 50,000 HIV-positive people in sub-Saharan Africa had been receiving retroviral treatment for HIV.
Calling PEPFAR “one of the most important initiatives of my administration,” the president remarked that the program has supported care for more than 10 million people affected by HIV, including more than four million orphans and vulnerable children.
“More than 237,000 babies have been born HIV-free, thanks to the support of the American people for programs to prevent mothers from passing the virus on to their children,” he continued.
Declaring that PEPFAR is “bringing hope and healing to people around the world,” he said that he and First Lady Laura Bush have witnessed firsthand the gratitude of the African people.
About a half hour after making his remarks on the North Lawn of the White House, President Bush spoke at the Saddleback Forum on Global Health with Evangelical leader Rev. Rick Warren.
The president explained that he had insisted on “measurable goals” because “lives needed to be saved.”
He accused bureaucracies of avoiding goal-setting while explaining what he believed to be a successful feature of PEPFAR.
“We said to people, we want to help you. But rather than being paternalistic about our help -- which basically says, we know better than you on how to achieve our goals -- we expect you to be a partner in achieving the goals. Which was an attitudinal change basically saying to African leaders, in this case, we trust you; we think you've got the capacity to be a good partner. “
This involvement of local leaders, in President Bush’s view, “aligned responsibility and authority” and made AIDS programs more accountable.
By shunning destructive paternalism in favor of constructive partnership, Bush said the approach was “earthshaking” because “it basically says, ‘we believe you can do better’.”
“’We believe in setting high standards and helping you achieve high standards.’ That's different from, ‘we're just going to give you money to make ourselves feel better,’ and that the results don't end up accomplishing our objectives,” President Bush said.