At ONE, we have learned that there is no substitute for seeing firsthand the progress occurring in Africa in the fight against extreme poverty and deadly diseases. So we were excited that a distinguished Congressional delegation (CODEL) visited Ghana and other African countries this week to see the progress being made thanks to smart, effective U.S. investments and the hard work of Africans on the ground. The delegation included U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), John Thune (R-South Dakota), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska), Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), and Representative Kay Granger (R-Texas).
According to Senator Graham’s office, the delegation assessed “the impact of U.S. sponsored counter-terrorism programs and projects relating to health, economic development, and strengthened trade relationships with African nations.”
In Ghana, ONE board members Bono and Joshua Bolten, former Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush, joined the delegation in checking in on the progress that has been made in fighting AIDS at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, which receives funding through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, as well as from the corporate sector, through ONE’s sister organization, (RED). Bono and Joshua Bolten joined the group for a visit to a school fully funded by a Millennium Challenge Corporation grant. They also visited a USAID-supported program providing insecticide-treated nets to fight malaria in the community.
More than 5 million men, women and children living in the poorest parts of Africa are now on life-saving AIDS medicine, up from just 50,000 people in 2002, thanks in large part to U.S. support for PEPFAR and the Global Fund. Malaria deaths have been cut in half in countries across Africa, in less than 2 years in some cases, thanks to the Global Fund and the President’s Malaria Initiative. These programs have saved millions of lives, helped keep families together, stabilized communities and won America friends and allies in the process.
ONE was not part of the official CODEL, but we were grateful to be asked to share our insights during the Ghana portion of the trip. In addition to seeing the investments the U.S. is making to save lives, the group also visited efforts to strengthen trade and economic relations with the continent.
We commend the CODEL for taking the time to visit a part of the world that is bursting with opportunity, but still facing tremendous challenges. The humanitarian progress that has been made thanks to U.S. investments, and the economic and security dividends that progress has brought, is substantial and has been achieved for far less than 1% of the federal budget. That’s a return on investment that would make Warren Buffett proud.