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For Immediate Release
February 1, 2003
Radio Address of the President to the Nation
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Earlier this week I reported to the American people on the state of our union. I asked Congress to join me in meeting the great challenges that confront our nation with the courage and resolve our times require.
Working together, we'll strengthen our economy and lay the foundation for sustained growth so that every person who wants to work can find a job. We will modernize Medicare to make sure that seniors can choose the coverage that fits them best, including coverage for prescription drugs. We will reform America's medical liability system to cut down on excessive lawsuits that are driving up the cost of health care. We will make America less dependant on foreign sources of energy by speeding up development of pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We will renew the hope of welfare reform and support the faith-based and community groups who bring hope and healing to children who need mentors and men and women who struggle with drug addiction.
The qualities of courage and compassion that we strive for in America also determine our conduct abroad. Across the world, we are meeting the threat of terrorism to make the world safer, and confronting the grave dangers posed by outlaw regimes. At the same time, America can also make this world better by bringing the merciful powers of modern medicine to people in great need.
Today in Africa, nearly 30 million people have the AIDS virus, including 3 million children under the age of 15. To meet this growing crisis, I am proposing the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. This comprehensive plan will prevent 7 million new AIDS infections, treat at least 2 million people with life-extending drugs, and provide humane care for millions of people suffering from AIDS and for children orphaned by AIDS. Facilities across Africa will have the medicine to treat AIDS because it will be purchased with funds provided by the United States.
I'm asking the Congress to commit $15 billion to fight AIDS overseas for the next five years, beginning with $2 billion in 2004. This plan, coupled with our ongoing efforts, will nearly triple our current annual spending on the global fight against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
Our efforts to combat AIDS in Africa are made more difficult by severe food shortage sweeping that continent, a crisis that affects up to 30 million people in Southern Africa and the Horn of Africa, particularly Ethiopia. Hunger, sickness and grief have left people across the continent even more vulnerable to the effects of AIDS.
Across the earth, America is feeding the hungry. More than 60 percent of international emergency food aid comes as a gift from the people of the United States. Building on this commitment, my budget for 2004 calls for more than $1 billion dollars to meet emergency food needs worldwide. Today, I announced a new proposal for a $200 million famine fund to bring immediate assistance to Africa and other regions facing starvation. Money from the fund will be available to purchase food supplies directly, or to support farmers in food production. We will encourage friends around the world to set up similar funds and leverage our combined resources to provide the most help to famine-stricken lands.
Through all our efforts to fight disease and hunger, we can spare people in many nations from untold suffering, and Africa especially. Millions are facing great affliction, but with our help, they will not face it alone. America has a special calling to come to their aid and we will do so with the compassion and generosity that have always defined the United States.
Thank you for listening.