Former President Bush is a controversial fellow, but not too many of even his most bitter enemies oppose his laudable effort to fight AIDS in Africa and other poor countries. Today, writing in the Washington Post, he reminds us of the importance of the issue. From “America’s Global Fight Against AIDS:”
Early in my first term, it became clear that much of sub-Saharan Africa was on the verge of catastrophe. In some nations perhaps a quarter of the population was infected with HIV. The disease was prevalent among teachers, nurses, factory workers, farmers, civil servants - the very people who make a society run. Drugs to treat the disease existed and were falling in price, but they could hardly be found in Africa. Whole countries were living in the shadow of death, making it difficult for them to plan or prepare for the future.
Who can doubt it? Bush decided to pour the best of our dollars and expertise into the fight. His policy worked:
In all of these efforts, my concern was results. I was frankly skeptical of some past foreign assistance programs. In this crisis, we needed not only more resources but also to use them differently. So we put in place a unified command structure; set clear, ambitious, measurable goals; insisted on accountability; and made sure that host governments took leadership and responsibility. The results came more quickly than many of us expected. Early in 2003, there were perhaps 50,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa on AIDS treatment. Today, thanks to America, other donor nations and the tireless work of Africans themselves, nearly 4 million are. Fragile nations have been stabilized, making progress possible in other areas of development.
Bono, who has real credibility on this issue, credits Bush and the U.S. Congress with saving millions of lives: From the story:
While support for the funding has been bipartisan, U2’s lead singer and world-renowned humanitarian Bono credits former President George W. Bush with leading the charge on the issue. “Even people who are snide and snarky about the United States of America have to admit that millions and millions of lives have been saved by American taxpayers,” Bono told Fox News’ Bret Baier during an interview with the lead singer and the former president taped at Bush’s Dallas, Texas, office.
If we want bipartisanship, it seems to me continuing and refining the Bush AIDS initiative is a good place to find comity and life-saving accord.