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Bush Requests Funds to Fight AIDS, Famine in Africa - 2003-02-01


President Bush is asking Congress to increase funding to help fight AIDS and famine in Africa.

President Bush says he will ask Congress for more than $1 billion to meet emergency food needs worldwide. Of that, he wants to spend $200 million for a famine fund to provide immediate assistance to Africa, where more than 30 million people are facing severe food shortages. "Money from the fund will be available to purchase food supplies directly, or to support farmers in food production," he said. "We will encourage friends around the world to set up similar funds, and leverage our combined resources to provide the most help to famine-stricken lands."

In his weekly radio address, Mr. Bush said hunger and sickness in Africa have left people more vulnerable to the effects of AIDS. So, the president is also asking Congress to fund a five year, $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which would triple U.S. support for combating the virus worldwide. "This comprehensive plan will prevent seven million new AIDS infections, treat at least two million people with life extending drugs, and provide humane care for millions of people suffering from AIDS and for children orphaned by AIDS," said President Bush. "Facilities across Africa will have the medicine to treat AIDS, because it will be purchased with funds provided by the United States."

Countries expected to receive priority treatment under the plan for Africa and the Caribbean are: Botswana, Ethiopia, Guyana, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

$1 billion of the new money will be earmarked for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which was launched by the United Nations in 2001.

The president says it is part of America's commitment to address the world's toughest challenges. "Through all our efforts to fight disease and hunger, we can spare people in many nations from untold suffering, and Africa especially," he said. "Millions are facing great affliction, but with our help, they will not face it alone. America has a special calling to come to their aid, and we will do so with the compassion and generosity that have always defined the United States."

The president says U.S. officials will continue to work to prevent famine with early warning systems and help for countries to increase agricultural production through technology and increased opportunities for trade.

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