Bush Visits
Africa After Urging Congress to Double PEPFAR Money

A month after
returning from the Middle East, President Bush will travel
to Africa in February on a five-country tour.

The president,
accompanied by his wife, Laura, will visit Benin,
Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, and Liberia, the White House
announced on Friday.

''This trip will
be an opportunity for the president to review firsthand
the significant progress since his last visit in 2003 in
efforts to increase economic development and fight
HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other treatable diseases, as a
result of the United States robust programs in these
areas,'' a White House statement said.

It said Bush also
would talk with leaders about how the United States can
help promote democratic reform, respect for human rights,
free trade, open investment regimes, and economic
opportunity across the continent.

Bush returned
January 16 from an eight-day trip to Israel, the
Palestinian-governed West Bank, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab
Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. He plans at least a
half dozen more trips to the Middle East, Asia,
Europe, and South America before leaving office next

Bush in November
urged Congress to double U.S. money for the global fight
against AIDS, to $30 billion over the next five years. In
2003 Congress approved $15 billion for the President's
Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The program
is active in 120 countries, with a concentrated focus
on 15 in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

As of the end of
September, 1.36 million people in those focus countries
had received antiretroviral treatment through the program,
with a focus on averting infant infections by treating
pregnant women. Others receive testing and counseling.

Doubling the
funding for PEPFAR would provide treatment for 2.5 million
people, the White House said. (AP)

Tags: Health, Health

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