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Bushes plan Africa trip to spotlight health efforts

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 22, 2011

George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush are bound for Africa next month to highlight female cancers and diseases such as malaria in developing countries, advancing their plan to focus on global health in the post-presidency years.

The Bushes will travel to Tanzania, Zambia and Ethiopia from December 1-5, a few months after they announced a new initiative to combat breast and cervical cancer in countries where screening isn't readily available.

Dubbed "Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon," the initiative aims to build on the work started by Mr. Bush during his presidency, when Congress committed billions of dollars to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR.

The plan is to expand the services of clinics created under 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.

Mr. and Mrs. Bush will emphasize the importance of continuing to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, according to a press release. Africa was visited twice by the couple and three times by the first lady during Mr. Bush's terms, but it will be their first long trip to the continent since leaving the White House in 2009.

Mr. and Mrs. Bush unveiled the initiative in early October at a two-day Washington conference. Led by the George W. Bush Institute and supported by the Joint Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and the State Department, the partnership has pledged to spend $75 million over five years to expand cervical cancer screening and treatment, and breast cancer education.

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