FORMER United States President George W. Bush is visiting Zambia and Botswana to promote a health initiative that focuses on cervical and breast cancer prevention and treatment.
In the city of Kabwe, Bush worked with local residents last Saturday to refurbish a clinic used to screen, diagnose and treat cervical cancer.
Bush heads to the capital of Lusaka, where he will designate a cancer centre at a university teaching hospital and meet with governmental and health care leaders.
He will then travel to Botswana to launch a similar programme aimed at combating cancer, the US embassy said there.
“The United States government and President Bush are pleased to join together to announce a US$3 million (about P22m) project in Botswana to scale up an innovative programme that will dramatically decrease the time needed for examination, diagnosis, and treatment of cervical cancer,” reads statement from the American Embassy.
The trip to both nations – which ends Thursday – is part of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative spearheaded by his foundation that seeks to expand cervical and breast cancer screening, and treatment in sub-Saharan Africa.
Cancer in Africa is an emerging global concern. The continent has an acute shortage of experts such as oncologists, and lacks infrastructure and data to combat the disease, exacerbating the concern.
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Bush and former first lady Laura Bush have previously visited the continent as part of his foundation's health initiative.
In a 2008 trip to Tanzania, they highlighted U.S. initiatives to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and poverty during a trip to five African nations that included Rwanda and Benin.
"Different people may have different views about you and your administration and your legacy," Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said at the time.
"You, Mr. President, and your administration, have been good friends of our country and have been good friends of Africa."
As president, Bush introduced an emergency AIDS programme that saved millions of lives in Africa by providing antiretroviral drugs.
Analysts have said that his health initiatives offer a chance to make the case that his legacy on foreign policy should not be judged on the Iraq war alone.