George W. Bush calls on Africa's 'first spouses' to break down stigmas in fighting cancer, AIDS
August 6th, 2014
02:10 PM ET
1 month ago

George W. Bush calls on Africa's 'first spouses' to break down stigmas in fighting cancer, AIDS

Washington (CNN) – Former President George W. Bush said Wednesday it takes something special to get him out of Dallas nowadays, and with the Africa Leaders Summit in Washington this week it gave him a chance to talk about an effort many may not associate him with - fighting AIDS in Africa.

Bush discussed his institute's efforts to fight AIDS with programs like "Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon" – which provides screenings to women at high risk for cancer.

"The women were nervous at first to be screened, but then they become joyous. Joyous to know that people cared about them, and joyous to know that their government wanted them to be healthy," Bush told the audience at a symposium hosted by first lady Michelle Obama and his wife, former first lady Laura Bush.

"The screening was a matter of survival. I know the process can be intimidating its truly a source of life and hope."

The event, held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., focused on the impact of investments in education, health, and public-private partnerships in Africa but clearly highlighted the role of African women and girls in the present and future potential of their home countries.

Bush followed speeches by Michelle Obama and Laura Bush to an audience primarily made up of the spouses of African heads of state, or "first spouses."

"By the way for the first ladies, if you're worried about your husband's political future, taking care of women is good politics," Bush told the audience, also admitting that he suspected that both he and his successor were less popular or famous than their spouses.

During his time in office the former president championed a program entitled the "President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief" or PEPFAR, a lesser known part of Bush's legacy in the White House. In 2003, the program began by providing $15 billion over five years to combat AIDS around the globe through testing, counseling and medical treatment. The amount initially spent was over three times what the nation had spent on this cause before.

Bush spoke about his hope that programs like PEPFAR and Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon would empower African countries to tackle cancer and AIDS with the help of global resources as well as local leadership.

"These programs survive and thrive when local leaders take ownership and commit their resources, as we've seen in Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana. Our goal is to create working models, proven partnerships, that additional countries over time can expand and incorporate into their own national plans. It’s always been my approach to development: partnership not paternalism," Bush told the audience.

However, Bush also acknowledged issues that stem from the local communities and prejudices.

"It is impossible to direct help where it is needed most when any group is targeted for legal discrimination and stigma. Compassion and tolerance are important medicines."

Leadership from those in positions of power, many of whom were in the room, can be essential in knocking down these barriers, Bush said.

"People die of stigma. There's too many people not being treated because of some false rumors, and the first ladies – while stigma may seem like an unbreachable wall – you got to realize it’s really made of glass and through your leadership it can be broken, by being outspoken and by being honest and by being compassionate for the sake of mothers and granddaughters."


Filed under: George W. Bush
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. The Real Tom Paine

    Better watch it, sir: there are those who will label you a RINO for caring about people in Africa.

    This is W's real legacy, and the one he should be universally applauded for.

    August 6, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  2. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Really can't wait to see Thad Cochran,Kevin McCarthy,Thom Tillis,Sheldon Adelson,Rupert Mourdoch,Karl Rove,Lindsey Graham,John McCain,Susan Collins,Hayley Barbour,Grover Norquist and the desperate GOP stuff Jeb bush down the tea potty's throats EXACTLY like they stuffed Romney down. Straight no chaser. Hillary will drink to that!

    August 6, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  3. Chris..E.Al

    We dont like you W you order the military to kill 500000000 terrorist on their on soil we like them in the homeland better . Sarcasm

    August 6, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  4. DavidK

    Dear George Bush, we are grateful for what you did in the fight against AIDS in Africa. I am a Ugandan living in the Middle East, but I saw first hand the devastation caused by AIDS and the impact of your intervention.

    August 6, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  5. Al-NY,NY

    "People die of stigma."
    --–

    you should know. your party is so brazenly anti-gay, US citizens die from hate and your ilk say "it's Gods will" or "they deserve it for being that way

    August 6, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  6. rs

    Good for Mr. Bush. Perhaps he can help push the post-Bush-era GOP to re-embrace a positive world-role for the U.S.

    August 6, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  7. OBAMA - THE OPEN BORDERS PRESIDENT

    First ladies I am sure will do a great job on a worthy cause.

    August 6, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  8. salty dog

    I honestly didn't think he cared about anything but money, I still think he's a heaping pile of horse hockey, I can't forgive what he did to true patriots, the ones who walk the walk, while he increased his wealth. And I think he and dick should be tried for his antics, not saying this was the first such incident, but unacceptable just the same

    August 6, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. Robert

    This is from the same George W. Bush who pushed abstinence instead of condoms in Africa, which increased the HIV/AIDs epidemic during his time in office

    August 6, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  10. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    You know I kind of like Bush. My dislike of him started with the 2000 election that he really didn't win, and it carried over after losing my job. But as time goes on I realize Bush may have been POTUS but it was Cheney that was running the country. Bush gets some of the blame but I put the most on that black hearted little Dick Cheney. I will give W his props for his work done in Africa. Good work George.

    August 6, 2014 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. Lizzie

    salty dog, who are the ones who walk the walk, certainly not Former Pres.Clinton who went to Canada to evade the draft or VP Biden who ask for FIVE deferments, Hope you are wearing boots because you're standing knee deep in horse sh....

    August 6, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. rs

    Lizzie

    salty dog, who are the ones who walk the walk, certainly not Former Pres.Clinton who went to Canada to evade the draft or VP Biden who ask for FIVE deferments, Hope you are wearing boots because you're standing knee deep in horse sh....
    ____________________
    Clinton got college deferments- a few less than Mr. Cheney. Do you really think Bush "walked the walk"? Do you think the National Guard trains pilots to fly planes they are getting rid of? Do you think spending a year of your "tour of duty" on a Senator's campaign is really military service?
    Bush got what you'd expect- special treatment because of his family.

    August 6, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Lizzie

    salty dog, who are the ones who walk the walk, certainly not Former Pres.Clinton who went to Canada to evade the draft or VP Biden who ask for FIVE deferments, Hope you are wearing boots because you're standing knee deep in horse sh...
    --------------------------–
    I seem to remember there being some controversy over George W. Bush's military service. I think it something about not ever being called to active duty, despite the fact that everyone around him did.

    August 6, 2014 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. smith

    The fact is GWB served in the military and Clinton did not.

    August 6, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. Silence DoGood

    @smith
    The fact is GWB served in the military and Clinton did not.
    --------------
    Then he invaded the wrong country illegally, killing 4000 of our military.

    August 6, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  16. Ol' Yeller

    Clinton did not go to Canada to avoid the draft... no more than mitt romney did... or dick cheney... or any number of republicants and Dems. However, John Kerry and Al Gore both admirably served during wartime and look what that got them. One of my most endearing memories of the '04 rnc was the 'we support the troops' crowd running around with their Purple Heart bandaids... now this was a time when we were actively at war (remember dubya protected us by not allowing photos of the coffins returning from Iraq) and soldiers (you know those Vets the republicants all of the sudden became concerned about when they saw an opening to blame something on Obama?) were being killed and maimed on the battlefield daily.
    But that didn't stop the clowns at the rnc of making light of the distinguished honor we bestow on our injured and fallen soldiers who were at that very moment fighting a war these same clowns had gotten us mired up in. A bunch of grinning fools in ridiculous hats, with hateful signs.... All wearing 'purple heart bandaids' on their pastey sweaty mugs while our brothers and sisters and fathers and friends were dying in the desert so dick cheney could rake in profits for his oil buddies who in turn supported their campaigns.

    All this to poke fun at and try and score political points against Mr. Kerry who had earned that Purple Heart on the battlefields of Viet Nam.

    (cue the swift boat morons to help make my point)

    So, please Lizzie... enlighten us on "walking the walk"

    August 6, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  17. Ol' Yeller

    @smith

    The fact is GWB served in the military and Clinton did not.

    There was a website all during dubya's two terms of playing president where a gentleman was offering 10,000 dollars to anyone who could bring any proof that dubya ever stepped foot on the base he was 'reportedly' stationed at. That 10,000 dollars never got claimed.
    So let's not play so hard and loose with that 'fact' word you like to throw around. Apparently there is no proof bush ever 'served' in the military... anymore than there is that Clinton did... Clinton could have just as easily dressed up as a pilot (or a cowboy, I suppose).... it doesn't make him one.

    August 6, 2014 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  18. smith

    @Silence- I thought insurgents and terrorist killed our troops.

    August 6, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |