Introduced In SOTU By President George W. Bush, PEPFAR Has Saved Millions Of Lives

“The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) exist[s] entirely because of a willing leader, a creative policy team, a smattering of activists and a vast, bleeding need,” columnist Michael Gerson writes in a Washington Post opinion piece. He cites President George W. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address, during which he announced the program: “Tonight I propose the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, … a work of mercy beyond all current international efforts to help the people of Africa. This comprehensive plan will prevent seven million new AIDS infections, treat at least two million people with life-extending drugs and provide humane care for millions of people suffering from AIDS and for children orphaned by AIDS.”

“In retrospect, the words were not particularly memorable. But the moment was remarkable,” Gerson continues, adding, “An initiative of this scale and ambition — the largest effort to fight a single disease in history — was utterly unexpected.” He discusses the implementation of the program and outlines a number of lessons that can be gleaned from it after 10 years. “I watched a leader make the decision to save the lives of millions of innocent people,” he writes, concluding, “Ten years later, it is still the noblest thing I have ever seen” (2/11).

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