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Remarks by the President in Announcing the New Global AIDS Coordinator

BG0317E | Date: 2003-07-09

July 2, 2003 - The Roosevelt Room

Five weeks ago I signed into law the emergency action plan for AIDS relief. It's one of the largest humanitarian undertakings in our history. The plan will provide $15 billion over the next five years to fight AIDS abroad. Millions of lives depend on the success of this effort and we are determined to succeed.

To direct this mission, I have chosen a superb leader who knows a great deal about lifesaving medicines, and who knows how to get results. I'm pleased to announce my nomination of Randall Tobias to serve as the Global AIDS Coordinator.

Randy is one of America's most talented and respected executives. He was Vice Chairman of AT&T International and Chairman of AT&T International, guiding the firm through immense organizational challenges. He went on to head Eli Lilly and Company, one of our nation's largest and most innovative pharmaceutical companies.

He is a highly regarded civic leader and philanthropist in his home state of Indiana. Throughout his career, Randy has shown the ability to manage complex organizations and to navigate government bureaucracies. He has earned a reputation as an executive of great energy, resourcefulness, good judgment and integrity.

As Global AIDS Coordinator, Randy will have the rank of Ambassador, and will report directly to Secretary of State Powell. He will coordinate all of our international HIV/AIDS activities for all of our government departments and agencies. He will oversee all resources of this program. And he will work with the faith-based and community groups to get the job done. He will report regularly to Congress on the progress and effectiveness of our efforts.

Randy Tobias has a mandate directly from me to get our AIDS initiative up and running as soon as possible. We'll work quickly to get help to the people who need it most by purchasing low-cost, anti-retroviral medications and other drugs that are needed to save lives. We will set up a broad and efficient network to deliver drugs to the farthest reaches of Africa, even by motorcycle or bicycle.

We will train doctors and nurses and other health care professionals so they can treat HIV/AIDS patients. Our efforts will ensure that clinics and laboratories will be built or renovated and then equipped. Child care workers will be hired and trained to care for AIDS orphans, and people living with AIDS will get home-based care to ease their suffering.

Throughout all regions of the targeted countries we will provide HIV testing. We will support abstinence-based prevention education. Faith-based and community organizations will have our help as they provide treatment and prevention and support services in communities affected by HIV/AIDS. And we're developing a system to monitor and evaluate this entire program, so we can be sure we're getting the job done.

Next week I will go to Africa to meet with leaders of African countries and with some of the heroic men and women who are caring for the sick and are saving lives. They deserve our praise. They deserve our help, without delay. And they will have our help.

When I visit Africa I will reaffirm our nation's commitment to helping Africans fight this disease. America makes this commitment for a clear reason, directly rooted in our founding: we believe in the value and dignity of every human life. We're putting that belief into practice.

We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we're eager to get started. I'm hopeful that the Senate will act quickly to confirm Randall Tobias as our Global AIDS Coordinator, and that the United States Congress will fully fund my request for this lifesaving initiative. I'm also hopeful that other nations of the world will join us to combat the AIDS pandemic.

I want to thank you very much for coming. May God bless our work, and may God bless the work of Randy Tobias.

MR. TOBIAS: Mr. President, thank you very much. It's an honor and a privilege to be asked to take on this role, and I approach it with enthusiasm and with optimism.

The statistics that describe the HIV/AIDS pandemic are really nearly incomprehensible. AIDS has already killed almost 20 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is the number one cause of death. And without intervention, it will claim the lives of one-quarter of the population in the next decade. Of those in the world who are infected with this disease, 75 percent -- nearly 32 million people -- live in Africa or in the Caribbean. More than 14 million children have been orphaned by this terrible plague.

Clearly, HIV/AIDS is first and foremost a health problem, but the implications of this pandemic reach into every aspect of life. As but one example, in a part of the world where malnutrition and starvation are already rampant, 7 million agricultural workers in Africa have already died from AIDS.

When you signed this legislation into law, you said that the United States of America has a long tradition of sacrifice in the cause of freedom and a long tradition of being generous in the service of humanity. You reminded us that we are the nation of the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift, and the Peace Corps. And now, Mr. President, thanks to your leadership, we are also the nation of the emergency plan for AIDS relief.

Over the past few weeks, I have had the unique opportunity to witness firsthand the strength and the depth of your personal commitment to this effort. And I look forward to working with you and those in your administration, with the Congress, and with the many non-governmental faith-based and community organizations who are already so engaged in doing so much. And I look forward to listening to and learning from the leaders and the people of the nations who are most impacted by this extraordinary crisis -- for, in the end, they are what this is all about.

Thank you very much for this opportunity to help.

For the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief Fact Sheet or the full text or video of remarks, please visit: