6 August 2012

Africa: Clinton Talks Agriculture, Health Care, Women's Rights in Africa

Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is discussing health care, agriculture and women's empowerment as she continues her 10-day Africa tour in Uganda, Kenya and Malawi.

Clinton kicked off her trip July 31 in Senegal and stopped also in South Sudan before arriving in Kampala, Uganda, where she presented the State Department's 2011 Human Rights Defenders Award to a coalition of groups she praised as an "inspiration to the world" for working to defend human rights under difficult and sometimes dangerous circumstances.

"You are tearing down barriers that prevent people from enjoying the full measure of liberty, the full experience of dignity, the full benefits of humanity," she said in presenting the award August 3. "This coalition shows what can happen when brave change-makers come together."

While in Uganda's capital city, Clinton also visited the Reach Out Mbuya Health Center, a clinic that does HIV/AIDS community outreach.

Thanks to the center's work, the secretary said, people in the area "have a place to come to be given support, to be given treatment, to be given dignity in order to achieve their own personal goals of being healthy and productive citizens."

Clinton called the clinic "a model not only for Uganda, but for all of Africa -- indeed for the world" in remarks during a joint news conference with Ugandan Health Minister Dr. Christine Ondoa. The two discussed the U.S.-Uganda partnership to improve health, including the 300,000 Ugandans receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Since the program's start in Uganda, Clinton said, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS has dropped from nearly 20 percent to below 7 percent. But infections are once again on the rise.

"Uganda is now the only country in sub-Saharan Africa where the rate of HIV is going up," Clinton said. "Together we can work on making prevention the focus again and making sure that rate of infection goes down."

She said the United States has pledged an additional $25 million to Uganda, and that U.S. government leaders are reviewing their strategy to combat the disease with their Ugandan counterparts. Clinton said the United States is also working with Uganda to combat the Ebola virus, and on maternal and child health issues.

While in Kampala, Clinton met with President Yoweri Museveni for talks on strengthening democratic institutions and protecting human rights, while also reinforcing Uganda as a key U.S. partner in promoting regional security.

Clinton traveled next to Nairobi, Kenya, where she met with President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Chief Justice Willy Mutunga to discuss the importance of holding credible, transparent, free and fair national elections in 2013.

"The eyes of the world will be on this election," the secretary said at an August 4 press conference. "Kenya has a chance to be a model for other nations, not just here in Africa but around the world."

She praised the country's recent referendum on a new constitution, and said the United States is committed to helping the country continue on its path to democracy.

Clinton next visited Lilongwe, Malawi, where she stopped by a Feed the Future event at the Lumbadzi Milk Bulking Group. She said for the decade that the United States has supported Malawi's dairy sector, the country's milk production has increased 500 percent and benefited thousands of farmers.

"Malawi and the United States are building on this success," she said. "I am pleased to announce that over the next three years, the United States intends to invest in Malawi more than $46 million to strengthen the entire agricultural chain."

As gifts to the milk bulking group, the secretary presented a dairy bull named Emanuel and a liquid nitrogen network to help farmers in the region improve their dairy cattle breeding.

While in Malawi's capital, Clinton stopped by a joint PEPFAR-Peace Corps event at Camp GLOW.

An initiative of the Peace Corps, Camp GLOW -- Girls Leading Our World -- is an educational camp that teaches young women life skills that they can then share with their home villages.

"Every young woman can make a difference in her own life and in her community," Clinton said, adding that the United States believes strongly in the great human potential of all Malawians.

"Some countries may have oil or gold or diamonds, but the greatest treasures are the people of every country, which is why investing in the future of the children of a country is the best investment that we can make."

She said the United States is establishing an internship program at the Peace Corps for a few graduates of Camp GLOW, supporting nurse training for more than 2,400 Malawians between 2010 and 2015, and recruiting American doctors to help train health workers in Malawi.

"The United States really believes that the future of Malawi is bright," the secretary said.

Making the first trip to the country by a U.S. secretary of state, Clinton praised Malawi for standing up for democracy.

"You showed the world what kind of people you were, and that sent a message everywhere," she said.

Clinton met earlier in the day with President Joyce Banda for talks on economic and political governance and reform.

The secretary next traveled to South Africa, where she is scheduled to visit democracy icon and former President Nelson Mandela and to participate in the U.S.-South Africa Strategic Dialogue before returning to Washington.

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