08 June 2007

Bush Leads G8 AIDS Deal

President George W. Bush holds Baron Mosima Loyiso Tantoh in the Rose Garden of the White House after delivering a statement on PEPFAR, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Baron's mother, Kunene Tantoh, represents Mothers to Mothers, an organisation which provides treatment and support services for HIV-positive mothers in South Africa. [Credit: Eric Draper, The White House]Leaders of the G8 nations will today pledge to spend $60bn (£30bn) fighting Aids in Africa. However, before we crack out the champagne, we ought to look at their track record. So far, they have provided less than 10% of the extra aid they promised Africa at the G8 summit in Gleneagles almost two years ago. Doing slightly better than most of our European partners—and much better than the current G8 president, Germany, who has performed particularly badly—Britain's overall aid budget has increased by 12.6% over this period. However, it is America who is leading the way in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. Here's what President Bush had to say last week:

The United States has responded vigorously to this crisis. In 2003, I asked Congress to approve an emergency plan for AIDS relief. Our nation pledged $15 billion over five years for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in many of the poorest nations on Earth. In the years since, thanks to the support of the United States Congress and the American people, our country has met this pledge. This level of assistance is unprecedented, and the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in human history.

This investment has yielded the best possible return: saved lives. To date, the emergency plan has supported treatment for 1.1 million people infected with HIV. This is a promising start, yet without further action, the legislation that funded this emergency plan is set to expire in 2008. Today I ask Congress to demonstrate America's continuing commitment to fighting the scourge of HIV/AIDS by reauthorizing this legislation now. I ask Congress to double our initial commitment and approve an additional $30 billion for HIV/AIDS prevention, for care, and for treatment over the next five years.
So, when you hear German Chancellor Angela Merkel announce their landmark new AIDS deal, just remember: there would be no deal without President Bush, who will contribute at least half of the pledged assistance—and who is the only one with a record for delivering on his pledges.