Bush spoke after his wife, former First Lady Laura Bush, and current First Lady Michelle Obama discussed advancing opportunities for women and girls in Africa on the third and final day of a summit for U.S. and African leaders.
“There are a few men in the audience whose wives are more popular than they are ... and I’m one of them,” Bush said, as quoted by the New York Daily News.
Bush reminded the audience of the aid he provided for the continent while he was in office, and announced an expansion of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, a program working to reduce breast and cervical cancer.
The program has already screened more than 100,000 women in Africa for cervical cancer, according to the report.
“These cancers threaten the lives of women everywhere,” according to the PRRR website. “They take a particularly devastating toll on women in low- and middle-income countries, and they are the leading causes of cancer deaths among women in sub-Saharan Africa.”
PRRR has also received more than $2 million in funding from GlaxoSmithKline and $200,000 from Bristol-Myers Squibb.
PRRR is a partnership between the George W. Bush Institute, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.
Bush launched PEPFAR during his administration to help stem the tide of HIV and AIDS in Africa.
At the event Wednesday, Bush reminded the audience that “a generation on the verge of being lost has been found,” thanks to his and other efforts to combat the epidemic.
The pool report also noted that HIV-positive women are “four to five times more likely to contract cervical cancer.”
Bush left the event after posing for photos with the first lady of Ethiopia, Roman Tesfaye, and the first lady of Namibia, Penehupifo Pohamba.