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Bush Approves $15 Billion Fund to Fight AIDS in Africa, Caribbean - 2003-05-27

President Bush has signed legislation setting aside $15 billion to fight the disease AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. Mr. Bush is urging other countries to join the effort.

President Bush said the United States is providing unprecedented resources to combat AIDS. He said millions are dying in the developing world and America must act. "The suffering in Africa is great. The suffering in the Caribbean is great. The United States of America has the power and we have the moral duty to help," Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush referred to the emergency AIDS package as a "great mission of rescue." He likened the effort to the Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild Europe after the devastation of World War II. "America makes this commitment for a clear reason directly rooted in our founding: we believe in the value and dignity of every human life," he said.

He spoke in an auditorium at the U.S. State Department, surrounded by dignitaries from 25 countries. Mr. Bush recognized the African and Caribbean ambassadors and officials in attendance and offered them a promise. "Send a message back home that we are earnest and determined to help you wipe out AIDS in your country," he said.

The president said the statistics are grim, but he said there is hope. He said he will work hard to urge other wealthy countries to do more to fight the disease, which has killed more than 20 million people worldwide over the last two decades. Mr. Bush said he will make the case personally to the leaders of France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, Japan, Canada and Italy when they gather next week for the Group of Eight summit in Evian, France.

"I will remind them that time is not on our side. Every day of delay means eight-thousand more AIDS deaths in Africa and 14,000 more infections. Every day," Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush described the American effort as the largest single up-front commitment in history for an international public health initiative involving a specific disease. The goal is to prevent seven-million new infections, provide humane care for 10 million infected people and AIDS orphans, and finance life-extending drugs for two million AIDS sufferers.