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.