In an attempt to curb Nigeria’s AIDS epidemic, First Lady Laura Bush and the U.S. will donate $163 million to Nigeria, with the hope that “one day an entire generation” will not have to suffer from the deadly disease, she said.
While on a tour of Western Africa, Laura Bush visited the National Center for Women’s Development in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital and St. Mary’s Hospital, 45 minutes outside of Abuja. At St. Mary’s, Bush listened to the stories of women suffering from AIDS, one of which said that her treatment ran out. She also spoke with a young woman who tested positive for AIDS in 1999 and did not start her first round of treatment until 2003.
"It’s really important for people who are HIV-positive to reach out and let other people know they can be tested, they can find out, they can still live a life, a positive life, a happy life," Mrs. Bush said. "That’s the message we need to get out around the world.”
Standing in front of cases of anti-retroviral drugs, Bush announced that there were enough drugs to treat 500 people over the next year. This is the first U.S. donation to this hospital. In recent years, Nigeria received $71 million and $110 million from President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. For this fiscal year, they will be receiving $163 million, according to a CNN news article.
St. Mary’s is a small mission hospital managed by nuns. It has s staff of 53 including four doctors, social workers and counselors. The hospital treats 120 patients. According to boston.com, more than 300,000 Nigerians have died of AIDS and almost 4 million are living with it.
Reuters.com explained that Nigeria is a major recipient of Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief; however, there is a concern that the treatment is not enough to treat high-risk patients. That includes teens and those in their 20s.
“President Obasanjo has stood with President Bush and Kofi Annan in the Rose Garden in Washington D.C. as the announced the global fund for AIDS,” said Mrs. Bush. “He has been a partner all along in trying to get treatment to as many people as possible in Nigeria.”
After speaking highly about Liberia’s new president and her accomplishments, Bush spoke of the importance of education. “The question we must answer now is ‘how do we nurture the development of the next generation of women leaders in Africa and worldwide?'” asked Bush. “The answer begins with education.”
Mrs. Bush is also working with African educators in six countries in order to provide 15 million textbooks for schoolchildren.