Former U.S. President Bill Clinton wrapped up a three-day, four country trip
to Africa with an address at a hospital in Senegal. Brent Latham reports from
our West Africa bureau in Dakar, Clinton praised a French-led project to provide
medicine to children in developing countries infected with HIV.
Former President Bill Clinton addressed an
audience of about 200 people outside a hospital in Dakar, Senegal. The former
president spoke after touring a ward of the hospital where HIV-positive children
Mr. Clinton spoke about his foundation's partnership with
the UNITAID initiative that was founded in 2006 by France, Brazil, Chile, Norway
and the United Kingdom to find innovative ways to finance medicine for the
worldwide fight against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
praised the UNITAID initiative for helping to drastically lower the cost of HIV
treatment for children in developing countries.
"Now that we have, thanks
to UNITAID, access to the pediatric anti-retroviral medicine, the World Health
Organization said, from now on, infants should be treated as soon as they are
diagnosed HIV positive. This has the potential to reduce the rate of childhood
death and morbidity four fold. It has staggering implications for how we care
for our children throughout the world for the next several years," the former
Mr. Clinton said efforts by UNITAID have gone a long way
to help poor children infected with HIV.
Mr. Clinton, flanked by the
French Minister of International Cooperation and Senegal's Minister of Health,
said the UNITAID initiative and the Clinton Foundation have succeeded in helping
to lower the price of anti-retroviral treatment for children tenfold in recent
years. He said the accomplishment was made possible by facilitating an increase
in the scale of drug production by raising the number of children
Mr. Clinton said five years ago only 10,000 poor children
worldwide were receiving treatment for HIV. Half a million were dying of AIDS
each year. Today more than 200,000 are being treated, fulfilling the universal
right to access medicine, Mr. Clinton says.
"It is all very well to talk
about how everybody has a universal right to medicine but if you do not have it,
a right is not really a right," Mr. Clinton said. "An unexercised right does not
The stop in Dakar was the
last on Mr. Clinton's three day tour of Africa which also included visits to
Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Liberia.
The Clinton delegation included daughter
Chelsea and actor Ted Danson.
Mr. Clinton said the trip was meant to
review the efforts of the Clinton Foundation to deal with HIV/AIDS, build
comprehensive national health networks, create economic opportunity, and fight
the problems of global warming.