Michelle Obama, Laura Bush spotlight Africa women's health

2013-07-02 11:36

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Dar es Salaam – US First Lady Michelle Obama and predecessor Laura Bush have combined their star power to draw attention to efforts to improve women's health and welfare in east Africa.

Michelle Obama is visiting Tanzania on the last day of President Barack Obama's eight-day tour of Africa. She helped Bush open a summit of the wives of African leaders, saying Africa was "at the hub of global development". The summit aims to promote women's wellbeing on the continent.

The unusual Obama-Bush combination spotlights US interest in the continent and the importance of Africa to the legacy of the president and his predecessor George W Bush.

For Obama, his three-nation tour has given him a break from a row over spy agency eavesdropping and a chance to promote US commercial interests to a receptive African audience.

Bush, who launched a widely praised programme to combat HIV/Aids in Africa when in office, was due to join Obama for a ceremony to remember the victims of the 1998 US embassy bombing in the Tanzanian capital.

An expansion of a programme to detect and treat cervical and breast cancer, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, is due to be announced tomorrow, organisers said. Former president Bush is due to speak at the first ladies' summit the same day.

The United Nations and nongovernmental groups, including Bush's foundation, launched Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon to provide health services to women in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, building on the US HIV/Aids prevention programme.

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