George W. Bush got many things wrong as president, and his ultimate legacy won’t be known for years — and perhaps decades — to come. Yet it’s increasingly clear that the Bush administration’s efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and malaria in sub-Saharan Africa will rank among the most successful global-health initiatives in modern history. (Disclosure: My husband once worked at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.)
The latest evidence of that arrived this month, courtesy of an independent study by researchers at the University of North Carolina and Harvard.
“Over the last decade,” the New York Times reports, “American donations to fight malaria in Africa have saved the lives of nearly two million children, according to a new analysis of mortality rates in 32 countries there. The study, published by PLOS Medicine this month, looked at the long-term effects of the President’s Malaria Initiative, a program started by President George W. Bush in 2005 that has spent over $500 million a year since 2010.”
Writing in the same journal that published the study, Stanford physician and public-health expert Eran Bendavid put its findings — which he described as “striking” — in recent historical perspective.
“Perhaps the greatest crowning achievements of global health in the past generation, the halving of child mortality since 2000 and the reversal of the HIV-driven downward spiral of life expectancy across southern and eastern Africa, can be traced back to U.S.-financed organizations,” Bendavid wrote. “The U.S.-financed retreat of malaria now adds to the pantheon of global health achievements.”
To read the malaria study, go here.