Bush leads ini­tia­tive to com­bat can­cers in women

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY PAIGE WIN­FIELD CUN­NING­HAM

In one of the first in­di­ca­tions of how he plans to spend his post­pres­i­den­tial years, Ge­orge W. Bush is us­ing his pres­i­dency’s sig­na­ture HIV/AIDS pro­gram to jump-start a new ini­tia­tive to com­bat can­cers in women in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

“It’s nice to be back in the ‘hood,” he told a crowd of sev­eral hun­dred on Sept. 13 gath­ered in Washington to hear de­tails of the part­ner­ship, led by the Ge­orge W. Bush In­sti­tute, that pledges to spend $75 mil­lion over five years to ex­pand cer­vi­cal can­cer screen­ing and treat­ment, and breast can­cer ed­u­ca­tion.

Dubbed “Pink Rib­bon, Red Rib­bon,” the ini­tia­tive aims to ex­pand the ser­vices of clin­ics cre­ated un­der the Pres­i­dent’s Emer­gency Plan for AIDS Re­lief (PEPFAR), equip­ping them to com­bat breast and cer­vi­cal can­cer as they con­tinue to pro­vide HIV/AIDS screen­ing and treat­ment. While these can­cers are highly treat­able — es­pe­cially cer­vi­cal can­cer — they’re of­ten not dis­cov­ered un­til too late in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries where ac­cess to screen­ing is lim­ited or nonex­is­tent.

Ad­di­tion­ally, stud­ies have shown strong links be­tween the viruses that cause cer­vi­cal can­cer and HIV/AIDS, mak­ing HIV­pos­i­tive women more likely to con­tract cer­vi­cal can­cer.

As the largest pro­gram ever ini­ti­ated by one coun­try to fight a sin­gle dis­ease, PEPFAR was ini­tially funded in 2003 with $15 bil­lion to be used pri­mary in 15 coun­tries with the high­est rates of HIV/AIDS. Most of the coun­tries are African, with the ex­cep­tions of Haiti and Viet­nam. In 2008, Congress more than tripled the ini­tia­tive’s funds, to $48 bil­lion through 2013.

“I hope the Amer­i­can peo­ple un­der­stand that 6.6 mil­lion peo­ple re­ceive life-sav­ing medicine . . . 6.6 mil­lion peo­ple who would be dead to­day now live, thanks to an ef­fort by the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” Mr. Bush said.

Along with cor­po­rate part­ners, the Joint United Na­tions Pro­gram on HIV/AIDS, Su­san G. Komen for the Cure and the State Depart­ment are sign­ing on to the new ini­tia­tive. The State Depart­ment will con­trib­ute $30 mil­lion over five years, said Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton.

Mrs. Clin­ton said the strat­egy is to turn PEPFAR clin­ics into one-stop shops for women, who play a cen­tral role in the health of fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties.

“If we want to make progress on some of the tough­est chal­lenges we face in global health, then in­vest­ing in women must be at the top of the agenda,” Mrs. Clin­ton said. “It’s women who have to fig­ure out how to clothe their chil­dren, it’s women who walk with a sick child miles to the near­est med­i­cal clinic and if that wo­man her­self gets sick or dies, the fam­ily sup­port sys­tem is bro­ken down.”

With the ex­cep­tion of a re­cent tour to pro­mote his mem­oir, Mr. Bush has spent most of the last 2 1/2 years out of the pub­lic eye. As work nears com­ple­tion on the new Ge­orge W. Bush Pres­i­den­tial Cen­ter, sched­uled to open in Dal­las in spring 2013, the ques­tion will be how the 43rd pres­i­dent will spend his post-pres­i­dency years.

Bill Clin­ton and Jimmy Carter have fo­cused on pre­vent­ing dis­ease through their re­spec­tive foun­da­tion ef­forts, with Mr. Clin­ton fo­cus­ing on mak­ing treat­ment for HIV/AIDS, malaria and other pre­ventable dis­eases more af­ford­able. Mr. Carter re­ceived a No­bel Peace Prize in 2002 for his work on hu­man rights and erad­i­ca­tion of dis­eases like Guinea worm, tra­choma and malaria.


Former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush is joined Laura Bush, his wife and the former first lady; and Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton be­fore his speech in Washington on Sept. 13 about a new ini­tia­tive to com­bat can­cers in women in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. The pro­gram aims to ex­pand the ser vices of clin­ics cre­ated un­der the Pres­i­dent’s Emer­gency Plan for AIDS Re­lief.

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