Miller Center

Proposal for Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis (May 11, 2001)

George W. Bush

Transcript

It is my honor to welcome our friend, the President of Nigeria, to the Rose Garden. Mr. President, welcome to Washington, the Rose Garden. And of course, Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Secretary General, thank you for coming.

As well, we are joined by two members of my Cabinet, Secretary of State Powell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson. I want to thank them both for being here. Scott Evertz, who is the Director of the National AIDS Policy Office is with us. Scott, thank you for being here. And, of course, Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Advisor.

I am looking forward to meeting with the President on a range of issues that are important to our nations. This morning, we've spoken about another matter that involves countless lives. Together, we've been discussing a strategy to halt the spread of AIDS and other infectious diseases across the African continent and across the world.

The devastation across the globe left by AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, the sheer number of those infected and dying is almost beyond comprehension. Suffering on the African continent has been especially great. AIDS alone has left at least 11 million orphans in sub-Sahara Africa. In several African countries, as many as half of today's 15-year-olds could die of AIDS. In a part of the world where so many have suffered from war and want and famine, these latest tribulations are the cruelest of fates.

We have the power to help. The United States is committed to working with other nations to reduce suffering and to spare lives. And working together is the key.

Only through sustained and focused international cooperation can we address problems so grave and suffering so great. My guests today have been doing their part and more, and I thank them for their leadership.

President Obasanjo last month led the nations of Africa in drafting the Abuja declaration which lays out crucial guidelines for the international effort we all envision. Secretary General Annan too has made this issue an urgent priority. He has been an eloquent voice in rallying the resources and conviction needed in this cause.

When he visited the White House in March, we talked about the AIDS pandemic. We agreed on a goal of creating a global fund to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The G-8 has been discussing the potential fund.

Our high-level task force chaired by Secretaries Powell and Thompson has developed a proposal that we have shared with U.N. officials, developing nations and our G-8 partners. We will need ideas from all sources. We must all show leadership and all share responsibility.

For our part, I am today committing the United States of America to support a new worldwide fund with a founding contribution of $200 million. This is in addition to the billions we spend on research and to the $760 million we're spending this year to help the international effort to fight AIDS. This $200 million will go exclusively to a global fund, with more to follow as we learn where our support can be most effective.

Based on this morning's meetings, I believe a consensus is forming on the basic elements that must shape the Global Fund and its use. First, we agree on the need for partnerships across borders and among both the public and private sectors. We must call upon the compassion, energy and generosity of people everywhere. This means that not only governments can help but also private corporations, foundations, faith-based groups and nongovernmental organizations as well.

Second, we agree on an integrated approach that emphasizes prevention and training of medical personnel as well as treatment and care. Prevention is indispensable to any strategy of controlling a pandemic such as we now face.

Third, we must concentrate our efforts on programs that work, proven best practices. Whenever the Global Fund supports any health program, we must know that it meets certain essential criteria. We must know that the money is well spent, victims are well cared for and local populations are well served.

That leads to the fourth criterion, namely that all proposals must be reviewed for effectiveness by medical and public health experts. Addressing a plague of this magnitude requires scientific accountability to ensure results.

And, finally, we understand the importance of innovation in creating lifesaving medicines that combat diseases. That's why we believe the fund must respect intellectual property rights, as an incentive for vital research and development.

This morning, we have made a good beginning. I expect the upcoming U.N. Special Session and this summer's G-8 summit in Italy to turn these ideas into reality. This is one of those moments that reminds us all in public service why we're here. It challenges us to act wisely and act together and to act quickly. Across the world at this moment, there are people in true desperation, and we must help.

It is now my honor to bring to the podium, the President of Nigeria. Mr. President.

[President Obasanjo and Secretary General Annan address the crowd]

PRESIDENT BUSH: It has been my honor to host this very important announcement. It's also my honor to recognize two members of the United States Congress who are going to work with this administration to make sure that our commitment becomes reality, Senator Frist and Senator Leahy. We're so thrilled you're here. We appreciate your vision and we appreciate your leadership.

Thank you all for coming.