Tragedy Would Unfold If Trump Cancels Bush’s AIDS Program

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

In 2003, in a move that has been described as his greatest legacy, George W. Bush created a program called PEPFAR—the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. At the time, more than 20 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were living with AIDS, but only 50,000 had access to antiretroviral drugs that manage the disease and prevent its spread. Now, thanks to PEPFAR, 11.5 million people are on those drugs. For good reason, it has been variously described as a “globally transformative lifeline,” “one of the best government programs in American history,” and something “for all Americans to be proud of.”

It seems that some members of President-Elect Trump’s transition team beg to differ.

Last Friday, Helene Cooper at The New York Times reported that the transition team sent a four-page questionnaire to the State Department about America’s relationship with Africa, on topics ranging from terrorism to humanitarianism. Several questions indicated “an overall skepticism about the value of foreign aid.” Two mentioned PEPFAR in particular: “Is PEPFAR worth the massive investment when there are so many security concerns in Africa? Is PEPFAR becoming a massive, international entitlement program?”

Without knowing the specific author, “it’s hard to assess the intent of those questions, but at face value, they represent a point of view that is skeptical in the least and barely veiled hostility at the most,” says Jack Chow, who worked at the State Department under Colin Powell and acted as an ambassador focusing on HIV. “They could be aimed at provoking a justification—an aim that is not too uncommon for these kinds of inquiries.”

Source: The Atlantic (link opens in a new window)

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