Dr. Boozman's Check-up

This week, the State Department marked the ten-year anniversary of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  Started under the vision and leadership of President George W. Bush, this program is a success story worth celebrating.

In 2003, when signing the legislation we passed to create the program, President Bush called PEPFAR "a medical version of the Marshall Plan." And it truly is. Prior to the program, an estimated 100,000 people were on anti-retroviral drugs in sub-Saharan Africa. Five years later, when President Bush left office, close to two million people were receiving these life-saving drugs. One million babies have now been born HIV-negative thanks to PEPFAR's mother-to-child interventions.

Along with tackling HIV in Africa, President Bush was instrumental in fighting malaria on the continent. By the time President Bush's left office, his initiative had halved the cases of malaria in fifteen African countries.

A common thread in these success stories is that neither program relies solely on the government. While the government has a role to play in these battles, faith-based organizations are doing exceptional work in tandem. As a former member of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, we examined how federal funds can help public-private partnerships and reach populations of rural Africans to improve the health and education of this epidemic. Government can’t solve the problem on its own. These organizations are vital to this fight.

As we mark the ten years of lives that PEPFAR has saved, it is not enough to celebrate the successes. We must continue to the good work of this program.

The American people have always risen to the challenge to help our global neighbors. We recognize that we have moral responsibility to respect the dignity of all human beings no matter what country they call home, and that is why I am an advocate of global health initiatives.