Obama Addresses Ghana’s Parliament, Reiterates U.S. Global Health Initiative

During his visit to Ghana over the weekend, President Obama praised the country for its achievements while calling on African leaders to take responsibility for the future of the continent, CNN reports. “Despite the progress that has been made – and there has been considerable progress in parts of Africa – we also know that much of that promise has yet to be fulfilled,” Obama said during a speech before the Ghanaian parliament (7/11).

“Development depends on good governance,” Obama said during his address. “That’s the change that can unlock Africa’s potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans.” Obama “outlined the four basic themes of his Africa policy – spreading democracy, diversifying single-product economies, extending public health, and mediating ethnic conflict,” the Christian Science Monitor writes (Hinshaw, 7/12).

President Obama cited the “enormous progress” that has been made in improving public health services in Africa, including HIV/AIDS care and treatment, but he also “observed ‘too many (people) die of preventable diseases’ on the continent,” Hispanic Business Journal writes. Obama also “acknowledged that Africa had continued to lose trained medical personnel to the developed countries,” and said that “more progress must be made” in Africa’s health sector (7/11).

Obama used his address to the Ghanaian government to reemphasize his administration’s support of the work of former President George Bush in the areas of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis (AP/Fresno Bee, 7/11), and spoke of his commitment to a six-year, $63 billion global health initiative, which includes efforts to fight neglected tropical diseases, as well as the $3.5 billion pledge for farming aid made last week at the G8 summit, the Wall Street Journal reports (Weisman, 7/13).

“We will invest in public health systems that promote wellness and focus on the health of mothers and children. As we partner on behalf of a healthier future, we must also stop the destruction that comes not from illness, but from human beings,” Obama said, Africanews.com reports. Africanews.com writes: “The U.S. president said the commitment of America and the West must be measured by more than the dollars they spend and must also be looked at in the form of partnerships in building the capacity for transformational change” (7/11).

Obama told Ghana’s parliament, “You have the power to hold your leaders accountable, and to build institutions that serve the people. You can conquer disease, end conflicts, and make change from the bottom up,” The Hill reports (Swanson, 7/11).

Politico examines whether observers think the words Obama spoke in his address to Ghanaians will translate “into major changes in U.S. policies toward the continent, or, ultimately, to the dismal conditions of life on the ground for millions in Africa.” Politicio writes, “Those who were watching for clues on Obama’s trip to Africa – all 22 hours of it – were skeptical that Obama’s personal familiarity with the continent will ultimately result in much impact on programs and initiatives the U.S. undertakes there. That’s in part because the kind of transformational changes Obama is promoting will be costly and could face difficulty in a Congress usually hostile to foreign aid – and because Obama himself is preoccupied with pressing problems at home and two wars abroad” (Gerstein/Abrahamson, 7/11).

AP/Google.com published a transcript of Obama’s address in (7/12).

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