Some five years and $15 billion after its inception, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief continues to provide health and hope to millions who might otherwise have died.
It's by far a more ambitious and effective assault on the disease plaguing Africa and the Caribbean than any previous administration has undertaken or advocated. African governments, which oversee the distribution of PEPFAR funds and supplies, say the program has been instrumental in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
What's more, widespread attention to the epidemic has helped reduce the stigma of the disease, leading to an increase in the number of support groups and testing centers. The funding has also provided for the care of AIDS orphans and has made great strides against malaria.
Eric Goemaere, the top official in South Africa for Doctors Without Borders, initially criticized Mr. Bush for resisting the use of generic drugs and failing to integrate its AIDS effort with national health programs. But he now acknowledges what the initiative has accomplished. "Five years down the line, they have been much more promising than many other funders," he said.
Even Bono and Bob Geldof, the celebrity consciences of the world, have praise for Mr. Bush and his determination to make a difference in Africa. (The Times, NJ, 2/21/08)
Bob Geldof , the musician activist who heads Live Aid with the help of U2's Bono, praised President Bush's work in Africa in 2003:
You'll think I'm off my trolley when I say this, but the Bush administration is the most radical - in a positive sense - in its approach to Africa since Kennedy," Geldof told the Guardian.
The neo-conservatives and religious rightwingers who surrounded President George Bush were proving unexpectedly receptive to appeals for help, he said. "You can get the weirdest politicians on your side." (Guardian, 5/28/03)
Geldof has also given surprising credit to the chastity-based programs in the fight against AIDS because they restore dignity, particularly to women:
"Pepar, which is Bush's almost personal response to the Global Fund, is a highly effective Aids combatant mechanism.
"It works. It's uncomfortable for people to speak these unspoken truths but a lot of that stuff is working."
He continued: "In general in rural Africa women have no power. They also cannot refuse sexual favours. I've seen marked in chalk on these rural huts - 'safe sex, fidelity' ".
He added: "It's giving women a weapon they can use."
Geldof was speaking during a question and answer question with the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, and the International Development Secretary, Hilary Benn.
He told the audience: "I'm not saying that we should go down that route.
"I'm not saying that anyone should do it. But nonetheless, in some parts of Africa I have seen that this has become a weapon for women to use where they can stabilise a relationship and indeed perhaps their own health." (Telegraph UK 9/28/06)