Celebrating The True Birthday Of PEPFAR

“Ten years ago today President Bush stepped into the Rose Garden to announce a $500 million program to stop the transmission of HIV passed from mothers to children during birth,” an announcement that “led the way to PEPFAR,” which Bush announced in his 2003 State of the Union address, John Donnelly, correspondent for GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog, writes in this commentary in the blog. “In the years since, PEPFAR has been credited for saving millions of lives, most of them in Africa,” he continues, adding, “For anyone who cares about the global AIDS fight, today should be a day to celebrate the saving of millions of lives in the developing world.”

Donnelly discusses the historical context in which the initiative was announced, writing, “At the time, it was a ground-breaking idea, especially from a conservative Republican president who earlier had cast doubt on the effectiveness of foreign aid.” He notes Bush asked his deputy chief of staff, Joshua Bolton, to lead an effort to draft the five-year, $15 billion PEPFAR initiative. Donnelly adds, “Many people will look at the State of the Union address as the beginning of PEPFAR. But it really began with an under-the-radar announcement of a program to save the lives of babies, and the whispered words of a president to a key aide in the quiet moments after” (6/19).