Bush: Fight Against AIDS Must Continue

Posted December 4th, 2011 at 7:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Former U.S. President George W. Bush has told an international conference on AIDS that despite global financial worries, the fight against the disease must go on.

In an opening address Sunday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Mr. Bush said the world has to set priorities but “there's no greater priority than saving human life.”

He also encouraged the U.S. to remain committed to saving lives in the developing world and to funding the battle against sexually-transmitted diseases saying, “isolationism is always shortsighted.”

Mr. Bush, accompanied by his wife and two daughters, is concluding an African tour that has already taken him to Tanzania and Zambia.

The former U.S. leader is being honored for his role in creating PEPFAR, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Described as the largest health initiative dedicated to fighting the disease, it has provided $1.4 billion to Ethiopia since its founding in 2003.

PEPFAR has contributed a total of $39 billion to bilateral programs, fighting not only HIV/AIDS, but also malaria and tuberculosis.

Mr. Bush told the VOA correspondent in Addis Ababa that the American people need to know “that their generosity saves a lot of lives.”

During his tour, Mr. Bush has refused to comment on calls by Amnesty International that he be arrested for human rights violations during his presidency, specifically ordering waterboarding and other interrogation techniques that the rights organization considers torture.