Botswana's Gains Against AIDS Put U.S. Claims to Test
By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
GABORONE, Botswana -- As global leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum in January, officials from President Bush's $15 billion anti-AIDS program issued a news release citing their accomplishments. Nowhere were the numbers more impressive than in Botswana, where 32,839 AIDS patients were receiving life-extending treatment with the help of the U.S. government, they said.
But thousands of miles away in Botswana, the Bush administration's claim provoked frustration and anger among public and private partners that had built Africa's most far-reaching AIDS treatment program, recalled those involved. Although the Bush program had promised millions of dollars of support, no money had yet arrived, they said.
The operations manager of Botswana's treatment program, Segolame Ramotlhwa, called the U.S. figures "a gross misrepresentation of the facts." His boss, Patson Mazonde, who as deputy permanent secretary for health services had overseen the program since its inception in 2002, called the Bush claim "false" but suggested it was merely a mistake.