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Bush Announces AIDS Research Allocation

Aired May 11, 2001 - 10:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS: Well, we want to keep our focus in Washington right now. Let's go to White House. And we want to show you a snapshot there that's being assembled on the back steps of the White House there.

You see a number of dignitaries there -- notably, you'll see that Secretary of State Colin Powell there, second to your left there, he has been leading the discussion on this one particular topic that President Bush is going to be coming out and addressing any moment now. And that is AIDS in Africa.

The president has been meeting with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, as well as with the president of Nigeria, discussing AIDS and how it has ravaged the continent of Africa. In fact, estimates are that it could actually wipe out an entire generation on that continent.

And Secretary Powell has actually said this could be -- this could lead to a national security issue for the U.S. That is one of the reasons why President Bush is going to establish a -- actually get involved with an issue that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is pushing. And that is the formation of something of a $10 billion worldwide global AIDS fund.

And we expect President Bush is going to be coming out and announcing -- we've been hearing that the U.S. is going to -- actually commit to donating at least $200 million to that particular global AIDS fund.

We are also going to be listening to see if President Bush has any comments to make -- we expect he will be taking questions from the press that's assembled there -- he may be taking some questions about Timothy McVeigh's pending execution, which going to be happening on Wednesday, which, of course, has dominated the news of late.

We understand now that we are about a minute or so away from this announcement by President Bush. And also, as we said, he's going to be accompanied by the president of Nigeria and, as well, as with the U.N. Secretary General. I can't really make out too well who's there. I believe that's Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser...

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Secretary of State Colin Powell. HARRIS: ... Colin Powell, we've got him. That is Tommy Thompson, the HHS secretary there as well. Now the camera's moving, so we can't see. I guess -- here we go. Now we see there, in front there, the president of Nigeria and President Bush and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan all coming down to the podium.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's my honor to welcome our friend, the president of Nigeria to the Rose Garden. Mr. President, welcome to Washington and 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're 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 adviser.

I'm 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 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 has made this issue an urgent priority. he's 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 agree on the 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 UN 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 an 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.

And 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 UN special session at 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. The challenge is 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?

OLUSEGUN OBASANJO, PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA: Mr. President, Secretary-General of the UN, I am particularly grateful to you, President Bush, for making this ceremony to coincide with my visit to you here at the White House in Washington, D.C. on your very kind invitation.

When African leaders gathered in Abuja two weeks ago to indicate their unflinching commitment to fight the scourge of HIV-AIDS and related diseases, the joint message of the secretary of state and the secretary of health was brought to us as a message of hope from the United States of America.

Today, Mr. President, we have begun to (inaudible) that hope for Africa, and particularly for millions of Africans infected and affected by HIV-AIDS. We are still far from the $7 to $8 billion annually that experts reckon will be needed to make impression on the ravaging effects of this dreadful scourge.

But with this beginning, and just the beginning, as you have kindly emphasized for the U.S., all nations, governments, foundations, private individuals and private sector, and indeed, all humankind who are stakeholders in the health of humanity are challenged and called upon to make contributions to the global trust fund for HIV-AIDS and related diseases.

Mr. President, I thank you on behalf of all AIDS sufferers in the world, but particularly on behalf of all AIDS sufferers in Africa for launching the global fight against HIV-AIDS pandemic.

BUSH: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you very much.

Mr. Secretary-General?

Thank you.

KOFI ANNAN, UN SECRETARY-GENERAL: President Bush, President Obasanjo, I wish to thank you, President Bush, for committing yourself today to placing the United States at the forefront of the global fight against HIV-AIDS.

It is a visionary decision that reflects your nation's natural leadership in the United Nations, as well as your recognition of the threat posed by this global catastrophe. To defeat this epidemic that haunts humanity and to give hope to the millions infected with the virus, we need a response, that much is the challenge. We should now build on the remarkable progress over the last year in galvanizing global awareness of the threat of HIV-AIDS.

I believe can all agree on five key objectives for our response.

First, to ensure that people everywhere, particularly young people, know what to do to avoid infection. Second, to stop perhaps the most tragic form of HIV transmission: from mother to child. Third, to provide treatment for all those infected. Fourth, to redouble the search for a vaccine as well as a cure. And fifth, to care for all those whose lives have been devastated by AIDS, particularly the orphans. And there are an estimated 13 million of them worldwide today and their numbers are growing.

As we declare global war on AIDS, we will need a war chest to fight it. nn

We need to mobilize an additional $7 to $10 (ph) million a year to fight this disease worldwide. The Global AIDS and Health Fund that I have called for as part of this total effort would be open to the nations, as you heard from the two presidents, from governments, civil society, private sector, foundations and individuals -- all hands on deck. And the resources provided must be over and above what is being spent today on the disease and on development assistance to poor countries.

This founding contribution by the U.S., with the promise to do more, will encourage and energize others to act.

Africa, of course, is the continent that is most profoundly affected by the spread of HIV-AIDS, and the continent most in need of hope for a better future. The peoples and the leaders of the continent are rising to the challenge, as President Obasanjo just showed most recently by hosting the Abuja AIDS summit.

However, we must not forget that other parts of the world, from the Caribbean to Asia to Eastern Europe, are also confronting the spread of this virus and need urgent assistance.

Mr. President, it is my hope that your commitment today will set an example for other leaders. When we meet at the General Assembly special session on HIV-AIDS on the 25th of June in New York City, there will be strong support for the Global AIDS and Health Fund. As that happens, I believe today will be remembered as the day we began to turn the tide.

Thank you very much.

BUSH: Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General.

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.

HARRIS: And with that President Bush wraps up this ceremony. We expected that he would also answer questions from the press; and as you can see, that is not going to happen.

What we did hear is that President Bush did commit the United States to contributing $200 million to an announced global AIDS fund, which will consist of some $10 billion. This is the idea that has been pushed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and we heard that -- and his remarks were that this fund is going to defeat the epidemic that haunts humanity.

And Secretary General Annan also listed key -- five key objectives that he said this fund is going to be trying to address, and that is the education of the youth as to how AIDS is transmitted, stop mother-to-child transmission of AIDS. Also provide treatment for those who have it, redouble the efforts to find a vaccine for AIDS, and also to care for the millions of lives that have been devastated by this pandemic. He's mentioned there were at least 13 million people orphan -- children orphaned by this disease around the world.

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