Abuja+12 is Over: African Leaders must fulfill their pledges!

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Biodun Awosusi

The Abuja +12 Special Summit of African heads of state and government ended today with the acceptance of declarations. Some key things stood out:

African has shown strong political commitment to its fight against HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria as evidenced by the Abuja declaration (2001), Abuja call to action (2006), Kampala Declaration, and the Abuja +12. The continent has enjoyed the support of UN agencies and several development partners through Global Fund, Stop TB Partnership and the Roll Back Malaria Program.

What are the results of these efforts? According to Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko is the Commissioner of Social Affairs of the African Union Commission, the annual number of people newly infected with HIV in Africa has been reduced by 25% since 2001, the number of children acquiring HIV infection has declined by 24% between 2009 and 2011 and the number of people who died from AIDS-related causes was 32% lower in 2011 than in 2005. Since 2001, nearly 13 million people in Africa have been reached with TB treatment. There are also encouraging signs in the effort to prevent new cases of malaria: the burden of malaria in Africa is down by one third, and eight countries have already achieved the targeted reduction of 75% in the incidence of malaria since 2000.

Despite these achievements, there are still gaps! Africa is still hit with the double disease of these deadly trio and emerging non-communicable diseases. It is the continent worst hit by malaria with more than 80% of global malaria deaths! HIV/AIDS and TB claim many lives  especially women and children. This scenario is unacceptable.

The summit was a forum for African leaders to push further to end the deadly trio of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria as they called for:

a. Production of medicines on the continent rather than importing from outside

b. Replenishment of the Global Fund

c. Ownership and sustainability of existing initiatives through innovative financing

d. Reduction in reliance on foreign donors

e. Creation of an African Centre for Disease Control

f. Strengthening of health systems across Africa based on the principle of shared responsibility, global partnership and accountable leadership.

g. renewed commitment to all previous declarations.

h. improved universal access to HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria services.

It was particularly interesting to see that only about 6 countries in Africa have achieved the 15% of national budget for health. Unfortunately, Nigeria, the host of the first meeting in 2001 and this special summit, budgeted 4% for health in its 2013 budget!

It is not enough to sign declarations! We want action not just talks!

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