Bush Administration AIDS Policies ‘Overshadowing’ Obama’s Tour Of Sub-Saharan Africa, Washington Post Reports

The Washington Post examines how a focus on policies implemented under President George W. Bush — specifically PEPFAR — are “overshadowing” President Obama’s current three-country tour of sub-Saharan Africa, writing, “Obama has been widely applauded for distinguishing himself from Bush’s policies, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan,” but “across this continent, many Africans wish Obama was more like Bush in his social and health policies, particularly in the fight against HIV/AIDS — one of the former president’s signature foreign policy aid programs.” The newspaper writes, “Bush poured billions of dollars into the effort to combat the spread of the disease that once threatened to consume a generation of young Africans, and as Obama has spent two days touring South Africa, the shadow of his predecessor has trailed him.” The newspaper notes that some AIDS advocates have expressed concern that cuts to the PEPFAR budget “threaten to turn back years of progress in the fight against the AIDS epidemic,” but “[a]dministration officials note that the decreases in funding for PEPFAR have been made up by increases in funding to multilateral programs that tackle a variety of diseases, including AIDS.”

“‘Given the budget constraints, for us to try to get the kind of money that President Bush was able to get out of the Republican House for massively scaled new foreign aid program is very difficult,’ the president said Sunday in the discussion with reporters,” the Washington Post writes, adding, “At the Tutu Center [in Cape Town, South Africa,] on Sunday, Obama said the goal of U.S. policy under his administration is to increase capacity for South Africa and other nations to manage their own programs to fight the disease, rather than rely largely on U.S. funding” (Raghavan/Nakamura, 6/30). In a separate article, the newspaper notes Obama and Bush, who is on his own tour of the continent, “on Tuesday will both participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the U.S. Embassy [in Tanzania], the site of a terrorist bombing in 1998” (Nakamura, 7/1).

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