- Laura Bush, the First Lady of the United States today begins a tour of Africa. The tour takes her to Senegal, Mozambique, Zambia and Mali where she will visit the US-funded projects on HIV/AIDS and malaria.
During her five-day Africa tour, Mrs Bush is also expected to make talk about education and women’s empowerment.
Her previous tours took her to Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa, Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria.
Last week, she spoke at Howard University, giving hope to people living with HIV/AIDS. “People can live positively with AIDS for a long time, live a healthy life. AIDS is not the death sentence that we once thought it was,” Mrs Bush assured.
Laura Bush is expected to repeat the message as she tours around the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Laura’s husband, President George Bush, established the project in 2003. President Bush is still pressing for more funds for the fight against AIDS. Not long ago, he has asked the Congress to approve US $30 billion instead US $15 five-year financial commitments.
A significant part of PEPFAR funds enables grassroots organisations to campaign around HIV/AIDS, implement programs for prevention as well as provide treatment and care to people living with the pandemic.
The US leader also launched the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) in 2005. Through the initiative, NGOs are funded to step up programmes and strategies geared towards preventing malaria. Funded to the tone of US $1.2 billion, the five-year project’s ultimate goal is to eradicate malaria in African countries hardest-hit by the disease.
Until 1946, the US had been troubled by malaria. Today, malaria has become a major health problem for Africa where hundreds of thousands, mostly infants, children and pregnant women, die annually.
The first port of call for Mrs Bush is Senegal where she is expected to award the Ambassador’s Girls’ Scholarships provided by the Africa Education Initiative. By 2010, this initiative will provide scholarships to 555,000 African girls.
“It’s critically important that they be educated, not only to be able to provide for financial stability for their home, but also for their own health,” the first lady’s chief of staff, Anita McBride, told a briefing meeting.
Laura is also billed to partake in a roundtable on women’s empowerment in Mozambique as well as visit Flame, which is a transit home for orphans, and WORTH, an organization that educates and provides micro-financing Zambian women.
She will launch the first public/private-funded PlayPump water system at Zambia’s Regiment Basic School in Lusaka. The PlayPump will make clean water to Zambian communities.
Mrs Bush a programmes on Millennium Challenge Corporation, Bamako-Senou International Airport gateway and agricultural irrigation in the Niger River Delta projects.
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