Reporting from Washington and Johannesburg — President Obama declared a new day in the fight against AIDS in the U.S. and around the world as he unveiled a plan to make life-saving drug treatments available to millions more people. The Obama administration will redirect $50 million to prevention and treatment programs across the country and will aim to help provide anti-retroviral drugs to more than 6 million people around the world, an increase of 2 million from the previous goal.
In a September 2008 speech on Obama's Africa policy, Obama adviser Witney W. Schneidman said Obama would establish an agriculture research initiative, expand U.S.-Africa trade by strengthening the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and create a Global Education Fund.
While in office, Senator Obama put forth legislation called the Global Poverty Act of 2007. That bill would have required the President to implement a strategy to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day. He also co-sponsored the Multilateral Debt Relief Act of 2005. This legislation would have instructed the U.S. executive director of each international financial institution to fully dismiss the debt of all qualifying countries.
Soon after his election in November 2008, Barack Obama made two significant trips to Africa – one to Ghana and the other to Egypt – where he made important promises on his administration's engagement with Africa and the Muslim world. The fact that he made these trips early in his presidency seemed to signal a change in the way the US dealt with Africa, and Africans saw this as a turning point for US-Africa relations. In Ghana, Obama articulated a vision for the relationship that was characterised by increased investment and trade.
The new emergency relief assistance will go for food, health, shelter, water and other needs. It is on top of $870 million the U.S. already has provided. Obama said in a statement Thursday that the "heartbreaking accounts" from the region "remind us of our common humanity and the need to reach out to people in need."
Never before has a President sought to actually reduce America's commitment to fighting the AIDS epidemic globally. In Fiscal Year 2012, the federal funding for global AIDS is $6.63 billion. President Obama's fiscal year 2013 budget proposes spending $6.42 billion. In human terms, this difference represents 640,000 people with HIV/AIDS that could receive lifesaving AIDS treatment for one year.
President Barack Obama called for a new phase of African farm aid as 45 companies worldwide including Cargill Inc. pledge more than $3 billion to ease threats to global security posed by scarce nutrition.
The “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition” has a goal of pulling 50 million people from poverty in the next 10 years, Obama said today in his first speech on food security, before traveling to the Group of Eight summit at Camp David, Maryland.
Three years ago in L’Aquila, Italy, on the heels of a crippling famine in Africa, the G8 pledged $22 billion in food development – the first significant investment in a field where aid had been dwindling for years. That pledge expires this year and the Obama Administration is seeking to not only renew it, but to expand it, particularly in the private sector. When he announces this “New Alliance” on Friday, Obama will notably share the stage with the CEOs of several of the 40 companies who have pledged $3.5 billion in food and nutritional assistance along side the government.
While President Obama announced new ambitious goals for the end of next year, many activists do not detect urgency on behalf of his administration nor do they see a detailed roadmap of how to get to an “AIDS-free generation,” as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the administration’s broad goal in a speech late last year. For these activists and critics, the urgent push against AIDS that sprung forth from the Bush administration, the architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, has mostly not materialized in a government led by someone in whom they had great hope.
The Obama Administration’s FY2012 bilateral Africa aid budget request, at $7.8 billion, represents an increase of roughly 10% compared to FY2010, albeit at a more restrained growth rate than in previous years (see “The FY2012 Request by the Numbers”). FY2011 enacted levels are not yet available by region. The proposed increases are concentrated in the areas of health, governance, and agriculture.