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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
March 8, 2007
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Kuwait-America Foundation 2007 Gala
Ambassador of Kuwait's Residence
7:30 P.M. EST
MRS. BUSH: Thank you, Ambassador Al-Sabah, for your very kind introduction. And thank you so much, to you and Rima for welcoming us in your beautiful home. Dear Rima, thank you for everything you've done. This is just one beautiful evening in a long list of beautiful evenings that have supported such wonderful causes, and I really appreciate your friendship -- and your perseverance and your tenacity and your great food and lovely hosting.
Ambassador Sumaidai, Ambassador of Iraq, welcome here tonight. Mayor Fenty is here, I want to acknowledge the Mayor. Thank you, Mayor, for joining us. (Applause.) Dr. John Howe, the President and CEO of Project HOPE. Members of the Cabinet who are here, members of Congress who are here; Justice Anthony Kennedy, thank you for joining us; members of the Diplomatic Corps, thank you very much, as well.
Your Excellencies, distinguished guests. I'm delighted to be with you tonight as we honor Project HOPE. Since 1958, Project HOPE has brought care and compassion to millions of people around the world. They've responded with humanitarian aid in the wake of natural disasters, from the Southeast Asian tsunami to Hurricane Katrina. They've provided essential medical services for women, from breast cancer screenings to prenatal nutrition. They've trained more than 2 million health care workers in 80 countries. From China to the Czech Republic, from Mexico to Mozambique, these workers provide some of the world's neediest regions with good health, and renewed hope.
One of these regions is Iraq. During Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, Iraq's health care system fell into ruin. For years, ordinary Iraqis were shut off from the medical advances made in the developing world. Infant and child mortality rates doubled in 10 years, and millions of children suffered needlessly. Now, as the people of Iraq work to rebuild their country, improving health care for children is one a top priority.
A strong health care system for Iraq starts with the Basrah Children's Hospital. Construction is about 40% complete, and medical professionals who will staff the hospital are already being trained. In partnership with the Iraqi Ministry of Health and Jordan's King Hussein Cancer Center, nearly 40% of the hospital's physicians have received updated clinical training. In July, the Japanese government provided advanced surgical training for the hospital's Chief of Pediatric Surgery.
Last January, Project HOPE launched its program to train 250 nurses. Already, 92 Iraqis have graduated from nursing courses offered through Jordanian hospitals, and developed in cooperation with top hospitals in the United States. The program will make sure Basrah Children's Hospital has a caring, compassionate, expert nursing staff. And it will set the standard for training medical professionals throughout Iraq.
Parents everywhere want their children to be healthy. And when our children aren't well, we want them to receive the best medical care science has to offer. Our hope is that someday soon, Iraqi parents will be comforted by knowing that if their children are ill, they can get well in a good hospital close to home.
Thanks to each and every one of you for your support of the Basrah Children's Hospital. And thank you to Dr. Howe and Project HOPE for partnering with the U.S. government on this very important project. As the United States stands with Iraqis working to build a healthy democracy, your efforts will ensure that the blessings of freedom are enjoyed by healthy children.
Now, I'd like to introduce someone who's led our country's efforts to build the Basrah Children's Hospital, and who's been a strong ally of Iraqis working to secure peace, prosperity, and freedom for their country. Ladies and gentlemen, our Secretary of State, and my good friend, Dr. Condoleezza Rice. (Applause.)