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Bush Highlights Africa Health Initiatives in Speech


President Bush highlighted U.S. health initiatives in Africa during his State of the Union speech late Tuesday.

The president said the U.S. must continue the fight against AIDS, especially in Africa. He thanked Congress for funding the U.S. Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, saying it has supplied life-saving drugs to more than 800,000 people in three years.

Sub-Saharan Africa has become the center of the AIDS epidemic, accounting for two-thirds of all people infected with HIV at the end of 2006. Mr. Bush also asked Congress to provide $1.2 billion in funding for a malaria initiative aimed at 15 African countries.

The White House said Tuesday that so far, the program has delivered aid to about six million people in Angola, Uganda, and Tanzania. It said 30 million more will receive aid that includes medicine, sprays, and bed nets in 2007.

Among the guests at the president's speech was professional basketball player Dikembe Mutombo of the Houston Rockets, who has funded a new hospital in Kinshasa, the capital of his native Congo.