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Monday, 29 July 2013

As disease rates fall in Africa, EU urged to maintain health aid

African governments are spending more of their own money to combat the AIDS virus, malaria and other health plagues - according to a new report by the United Nations’ AIDS agency and the African Union (AU), released on Monday (15 July) -, but a senior global health official says progress in preventing infectious diseases could slow if the EU and other donors skimp on their aid.
While HIV and TB rates have fallen, the report shows that malaria deaths continue to rise in some countries and the insect-borne disease takes a particularly severe toll on mothers and children.
The report comes 12 years after African leaders made a commitment in Abuja, Nigeria, to spend at least 15% of their national budgets on health and do more to prevent the AIDS virus, TB and malaria. Since then, domestic health spending in the 54 AU member states has grown fourfold – from $14 billion to $52 billion (equivalent to €40 billion at today’s exchange rate). However, just six AU nations have reached the Abuja target, according to World Health Organization figures cited in the report.
Stepped up attention to health from African governments and international donors is credited with the improvements, but officials warn that a decline in spending could halt or even reverse them. In the European Parliament’s development committee on 9 July ,Mark Dybul, who heads the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, urged the EU and other donors to sustain their commitments to fight the diseases despite their own domestic fiscal challenges.
A report released in April by the Global Fund said it needed $87 billion, or €67 billion, through 2016 to finance programmes in 151 nations. Existing donors, governments in beneficiary nations and private supporters are expected to provide some $72 billion, the report said. Dybul has asked the EU and other contributors for additional $15 billion in “replenishment” funding that is designed to avoid gaps in treatment and prevention from different budget cycles in donor countries.
A month after the Abuja Declaration, the EU launched its ‘programme for action’ on infectious diseases to back up the African efforts.

At the special Abuja +12 Summit of the African Union on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, held from 12 – 16 July 2013 in Abuja, Nigeria, the African Heads of State resolved to take serious action toward the elimination of the pandemics, especially by scaling up the implementation of the initial Abuja Commitments, and implement targeted poverty elimination strategies and social protection programmes.

Source: EurActiv