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New commitments not expected from AU summit

New commitments are not expected from heads of state of the African Union meeting in Abuja next week, 12 years after they reached the Abuja…

New commitments are not expected from heads of state of the African Union meeting in Abuja next week, 12 years after they reached the Abuja Declaration in 2001, says the African Union Commission.

But the commission says individual governments will be expected to back stronger implementation of recommendations already in place to combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, including local ways to sustain an increase in health spending up to 15% in 2001 and increasing participation of local communities.

“We have to ensure that communities have a voice…and hope communities themselves are empowered to hold governments accountable for comments they make here in Abuja,” said Dr Ademola Olajide, head of health, nutrition and population division at the African Union Commission.

Speaking as experts met ahead of the meeting, he said the target to ensure the impact of the three diseases was “reduced to a level where it is no longer a public health concern.”

Unmet targets

“Many of the targets have not been met but the situation is not as dismal as in 2001,” said Ogoh Alubo, a professor of health and social development at University of Jos, who consults for the technical committee to present data to national governments.

But experts will recommend to heads of government of the AU “new sources of funding to complement the 15%” national commitment requested in 2001, said Janet Byaruhanga of the AUC’s department of social affairs.

In presentation before the expert committee, she said governments needed to create an environment that makes for:
·        diversified and balanced but sustainable financing
·        access to medicine, increased local production and harmonisation of regulations with target for a single continent-wide regulatory agency
·        leadership, governance and oversight to make the roadmap sustainable

Nations will also seek to scale up ongoing interventions and look for new ways domestic resources can be mobilised.

Since the recommendations came into force in 2001, AUC figures indicate, up to 7.1 million people have started receiving antiretroviral treatment and new cases of HIV have dropped by 25%, according to Marie-Goretti Harakaye, head of the commission’s AIDS, TB and malaria division.

Malaria cases have fallen 33%, preventing an estimated 1.1 million deaths. At least 2.7 million patients have been treated for tuberculosis, preventing up to 1.3 million deaths.

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