Bush talks up PEPFAR in radio address

The White House has released a transcript of President Bush’s most recent radio address, in which he praised the bipartisan support received by the PEPFAR re-authorization bill, and promised to sign the legislation into law in the coming week.  Here’s the section of the address that talks specifically about PEPFAR:

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week, Congress voted to expand a vital program that is saving lives across the developing world — the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, also known as PEPFAR. I thank members of Congress from both sides of the aisle for working with my Administration to pass this important bill, and I will be honored to sign it into law next week.

PEPFAR is the largest international health initiative dedicated to fighting a single disease in history. And it is a testament to the extraordinary compassion and generosity of the American people. When we first launched this program five-and-a-half years ago, the scourge of HIV/AIDS had cast a shadow over the continent of Africa. Only 50,000 people with AIDS in sub-Sahara Africa were receiving antiretroviral treatment. Today, PEPFAR is supporting treatment for nearly 1.7 million people in the region. PEPFAR has allowed nearly 200,000 African babies to be born HIV free. And this program is bringing hope to a continent in desperate need.

The new legislation that I will sign next week will build on this progress. We will expand access to lifesaving antiretroviral drugs. We will help prevent millions of new HIV infections from occurring. And we will also bolster our efforts to help developing nations combat other devastating diseases like malaria and tuberculosis.

I can’t resist making one small comment on the rhetoric of the address.  After the section I just quoted, he goes on to talk about how anti-AIDS and anti-poverty efforts are part of “advancing the cause of freedom.”  I’m not disputing the point, I just think it’s fascinating how there seems to be this undertone in American politics and culture that if something can’t somehow be related to “freedom,” it must not be worth doing.  (Yeah, this is the Canadian side of me talking.  Five years since I moved back to the States, and I still sometimes get culture shock.)

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~ by h.e.g. on July 26, 2008.

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