This week, I'm traveling through Asia with a delegation to visit Clinton Foundation projects in India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. Trips like these are important, because we get to see the impact of the Foundation’s work on individuals and communities. And we get a chance to meet with the partners whose hard work and dedication make it all possible.
One of our stops will be Banda Aceh, a province in Indonesia that, ten years ago this December, was among the worst hit by the devastating tsunami. Nearly 300,000 people lost their lives; families were torn apart; schools, houses, and health facilities were destroyed; and the strength of the human spirit was tested. But out of the rubble and chaos arose a model global response to build back better. I was proud first to work alongside President George H.W. Bush to help with the recovery and rebuilding efforts, and then to support the United Nations in coordinating the overall efforts of the next two years. Today, paved roads, businesses, classrooms, and other signs of modern infrastructure demonstrate what can be accomplished through the power of creative cooperation.
Networks of cooperation are critical to responding effectively to disasters and to addressing some of their root causes. For example, we know that natural disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity because of climate change; and we know there’s a lot we can do to reduce our emissions, including avoiding deforestation and reforesting degraded lands. In 2008, with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, our Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) piloted a program that helps communities conserve forests and protect biodiversity, while generating an income through the sale of carbon credits. In 2009, with a grant from Norway’s Agency for Development, CCI was able to expand this program, and today it supports nine projects in Indonesia that cover more than 700,000 hectares of forested area—more than twice the size of Yosemite National Park.
Today we stopped in Vietnam, which over the last two decades has truly transformed. In February 1994, my Administration lifted a 19-year trade embargo on Vietnam and the following year, we normalized relations. These were important steps toward reconciliation and helped expand opportunity for the Vietnamese people.
Twenty years later, I’m pleased that my Foundation works in Vietnam to help control its high tuberculosis rate by developing a program that successfully prevents TB among children with HIV. This program has already reached nearly 2,000 children in Vietnam, and we’re planning to scale it nationally.
Yesterday we traveled to Lucknow, India, where we visited some of our Foundation’s Zinc-ORS training sites. Zinc-ORS is an effective and efficient treatment for childhood diarrhea, which kills more than 700,000 children every year, including more than 200,000 in India alone—a tragedy that is largely preventable. The Clinton Foundation is working with our partners to lower the price of Zinc-ORS and get it to more children who need it. If done well, this effort can lead to the end of all deaths related to childhood diarrhea. I’m optimistic, especially because many of the people leading the Zinc-ORS effort are the same people who have had enormous success in scaling HIV treatment.
In Papua New Guinea, another one of our stops, the Clinton Health Access Initiative went into the highlands—one of the most rural and remote parts of the world—to create a model of decentralized HIV services that got more people tested and on treatment. The model was so successful that it has since been scaled up across the country. During our trip to PNG, we’ll be visiting an HIV lab and community treatment center that’s now working on the next frontier: eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
From Asia, we’ll head to our final stop, Australia, where I’ll speak at the 20th International AIDS Conference. Since 1985, the conference has given a face to HIV and AIDS, mobilized action, and reinvigorated hope. Because of the tremendous global effort, for the first time in our history, we have the tools we need to effectively treat HIV and AIDS and stop its transmission. This year’s conference will focus on accelerating progress so we can get to the finish line and end AIDS once and for all.
The challenges of our time may seem insurmountable. But, as long as we work together to build a world of shared opportunity where everyone has a chance to live their best life story, we can solve any problem. The work I’ll be seeing and the people I’ll be talking to on this trip prove that. I hope you’ll follow our trip here and learn more about the people and places where we’re making a difference. Let’s continue to build the kind of world we want all our children and grandchildren to live in.