In Africa, Obama defends administration’s record on AIDS relief

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania -- President Obama disputed a Washington Post story Monday that detailed a decline in funding for programs to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Obama said that the President's Emergency Program For AIDS Relief -- or PEPFAR -- has gotten far more efficient at treating patients than it was when his predecessor, George W. Bush, launched the program a decade ago during a height of the African AIDS epidemic.

The program is treating four times as many people as it did when it began in 2003, Obama said, and it has reduced costs considerably. He said his administration has shifted some of the savings to other global health initiatives, including tuberculosis and malaria alleviation.

But Obama, who will meet Bush on Tuesday for a ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania, emphasized that Bush deserves "enormous credit" for PEPFAR, which has saved millions of lives.

"I’m looking forward on African soil to thanking him on behalf of the American people for showing how American generosity and foresight could end up making a big difference in people’s lives," Obama said.

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.

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