In a stirring op-ed published in the Washington Post, former President George W. Bush pressed Republican lawmakers and President Donald Trump to continue to fully fund an anti-AIDS program he created in 2003 to battle the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa.
“In the past six years, more than 370,000 women have been screened for cervical cancer and 24,000 for breast cancer through Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon. More than 119,000 girls have been vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cervical and other cancers.” Bush wrote. “Nearly 1,000 health workers have been trained. With the proper resources and international commitment, we could end cervical cancer deaths on the continent in 30 years.”
“Critical to this effort is our Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon partner, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR),” he continued. “My administration launched PEPFAR in 2003 to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic that threatened to wipe out an entire generation on the continent of Africa.”
Bush acknowledged the new reality in Washington D.C. with Trump as president and cost-cutting a primary goal, saying it was imperative Congress keep the program alive.
“As the executive and legislative branches review the federal budget, they will have vigorous debates about how best to spend taxpayers’ money — and they should. Some will argue that we have enough problems at home and shouldn’t spend money overseas,” Bush wrote. “I argue that we shouldn’t spend money on programs that don’t work, whether at home or abroad. But they should fully fund programs that have proven to be efficient, effective and results-oriented. Saving nearly 12 million lives is proof that PEPFAR works, and I urge our government to fully fund it.”