Melania Trump begins Africa tour to promote health

US First Lady Melania Trump with Ghana's First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, yesterday. Mrs Trump was visiting Africa on her first big solo international trip, aiming to make child well-being the focus of a five-day, four-country tour. [AP]
US First Lady Melania Trump visited a hospital in Ghana’s capital, Accra, at the start of her solo trip that will see her visit four African countries.

She was welcomed by traditional dancers and drummers at the airport but the public reaction has been low key.

The tour, which also takes in Kenya, Malawi and Egypt, will focus on promoting health and education.

In February, a row broke out after President Donald Trump allegedly used the term “shithole” to describe African nations.

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Mrs Trump’s week-long trip to the continent was seen as helping to heal some of the divisions.

The visit, alongside Ghana’s First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo, to Accra’s Ridge Hospital set the tone for the trip as a whole.

Melania held a baby boy as she toured old and new wings of the hospital in the capital of Accra and distributed gifts of teddy bears wrapped in baby blankets.

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Melania observed babies being weighed as part of a project aimed at promoting nutrition in children, which is supported by funding from the US government’s foreign aid organisation, USAid

Later, a spokeswoman for Mrs Trump said the first ladies exchanged gifts: A White House tray in a signed leather case for Akufo-Addo and Kente cloth and artifacts for Melania.

The first ladies met privately at Ghana’s presidential palace, Jubilee House.

Melania promoted her Be Best initiative, which aims to tackle issues such as cyber bullying and boost healthy living. She tweeted that the campaign was going “international”. Ahead of her trip, Melania said she was looking forward to visiting “four beautiful and very different countries in Africa”.

“She is interested in Africa because she has never been there before and knows that each country will have its unique history and culture,” Stephanie Grisham, her communications director, said.

Ahead of her trip, Melania said she was looking forward to seeing how the US could continue working together with Malawi to support a USAid programme that is focused on children’s education.

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