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Bush travels to Zambia, Botswana to raise cancer awareness

By Faith Karimi, CNN
July 4, 2012 -- Updated 0958 GMT (1758 HKT)
Former President George Bush helps paint and refurbish a clinic used to screen and treat cervical cancer in Kabwe, Zambia.
Former President George Bush helps paint and refurbish a clinic used to screen and treat cervical cancer in Kabwe, Zambia.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cancer is emerging as a global concern in Africa
  • The continent has an acute shortage of experts such as oncologists
  • It also lacks infrastructure and data to combat the disease

(CNN) -- Former President George W. Bush is visiting Zambia 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 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 center at a university teaching hospital and meet with governmental and health care leaders.

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He will then travel to Botswana to launch a similar program aimed at combating cancer.

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.

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 program 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.

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