Opinion: Obama’s Africa Policy; Maternal Health

President Obama is expected to arrive in Accra, Ghana, Friday night, the AP/Google.com reports. White House adviser Michelle Gavin said the president chose to travel to Ghana “because it’s such an admirable example of strong, democratic governance, vibrant civil society” (Babington, 7/10).  The following are opinion pieces reflecting on his trip and Africa policy:

  • Obama Can ‘Add Real Body’ U.S. Africa Promises

In a commentary piece appearing in New America Media author and political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson calls for President Obama to “add real body” to the big promises of former Presidents Bush and Clinton to “boost trade, business ties, aid dollars, and wage an aggressive battle against corruption and disease, and to promote democracy.” The article notes, “African nations remain firmly locked in the grip of terrible poverty, disease, war and autocratic rule. The U.S. and wealthy nations can help lift that grip by massively increasing investment in African agriculture, transportation, manufacturing and technology; restructuring Africa’s crushing debt; encouraging greater regional integration and cooperation; condemning African nations’ disastrous military arms race; and, most important, challenging African nations to establish real democratic rule” (7/10).

  • U.S. Can Build On Ghana’s Success

Bono, the humanitarian and musician, says in a New York Times column, “Ghana’s going about the business of rebranding a continent,” pointing to the country’s governing success, economic stability and “steady progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals… one of the few African nations that has a shot at getting there by 2015.” While other G8 nations are falling short of their Africa pledges, the U.S. “is one of the countries on track to keep its promises, and Mr. Obama has already said he’ll more than build on the impressive Bush legacy,” Bono writes, adding that U.S. “aid dollars increasingly go to countries that use them and don’t blow them. Ghana is one. There’s a growing number of others.” Obama has “the chance to lead others in building – from the bottom up – on the successes of recent efforts within Africa and to learn from the failures,” says Bono (7/10).

U.S. Should Set An Example In Fight For Women Worldwide

In an opinion piece appearing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE, a global poverty-fighting organization, commends the recent decision by the U.N. Human Rights Council to recognize maternal death as a human rights issue and the Obama administration’s commitment to women and girls. “Protecting the health and saving the lives of childbearing women requires significant resources … an estimated global commitment of $39 billion over 10 years … to make significant progress,” Gayle writes. “This is an investment in women, their families and the economic productivity of nations. It’s a lot but the cost of not investing is far greater.” She concludes, “Women need more champions. The U.S. can spearhead a comprehensive maternal health action plan and, by doing so, set an example for world leaders to join and invest in” (7/10).

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