The White House on Thursday welcomed moves by US lawmakers to triple funding to combat AIDS worldwide by passing a bill earmarking some 50 billion dollars to a US global program.
President George W. Bush wanted to "thank the members of Congress who supported this legislation," the White House said in a statement.
AdvertisementThe bill, which boosts an existing program first launched in 2003, was overwhelmingly approved by 306 votes to 116 on Wednesday by the House of Representatives in a bipartisan effort.
The new bill would boost funding for the US Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria from the initial 15 billion dollars over five years to 50 billion over the next five years.
"As a direct result of the extraordinarily successful law we passed five years ago, the United States has provided life-saving drugs to nearly 1.5 million men, women and children," Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Howard Berman in a statement.
He added the program had helped to support the care given to another seven million people, including 2.7 million orphans and vulnerable children, and had "prevented an estimated 150,000 infant infections around the world."
An estimated 33.2 million people around the world are said to be living with AIDS with some 2.1 million deaths registered in 2007.
"The 2003 legislation firmly established the United States as the leading provider in the world of HIV/AIDS assistance for prevention, treatment and care," Berman added.
Malaria remains the number one cause of death among children under five in Africa. The UN World Health Organization estimates that 1.2 million people die of the disease every year, mostly children.
The World Health Organization has also warned that more new tuberculosis cases are slipping through the detection net, as countries fail to keep up with rapid progress made in earlier years.
In 2006, some 9.2 million new cases of TB were detected against 9.1 million in 2005, said the WHO in its annual report on TB control earlier this month.
But it estimated that, including non-detected cases, there were 14.4 million cases of the disease worldwide in 2006.
Berman, who led an effort to win over some wary Republicans in the House who argued the program was too expensive, lauded the program.
It had "reminded the global community that Americans are a compassionate and generous people, and so has helped to repair our nation's badly-damaged image overseas. In many ways, that legislation has had great healing power," he said.