Addis Ababa – Nigeria is to host a Special Summit of AU Heads of State and Government, tagged Abuja+12 Special Summit in July, to evolve modules that will intensify the effort of implementing programmes of Action Committee of AIDS Watch Africa (AWA).
President Goodluck Jonathan agreed to host the conference during the meeting of Heads of State and Government of Action Committee of AIDS Watch Africa held on Sunday at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.
The meeting was held as part of the side-line events of the AU summit and was chaired by the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Haile-Mariam Desalegn, who is also the AU chairperson.
In a communique issued at the end of the meeting, the Heads of State renewed their commitment to intensify effort towards the realisation of the objectives of AWA.
“We adopted and committed ourselves to the following; the outcome of our Action Committee meeting as summarised in decision on the Report of AWA Action Committee of Heads of State and Government meeting, which will be presented to the 21st session of the AU Assembly for endorsement and subsequent dissemination to stakeholders and partners for follow up action.
“We request AU member states to develop a sustainable investment plan for health, particularly AIDS, TB and Malaria, with year-on-year increase in domestic funding.
“AWA will play a key and leadership role in the forthcoming special Summit of the AU Heads of government (Abuja+12 Summit) in July in Abuja, Nigeria.
“Intensify and facilitate advocacy and further develop partnership at all levels. In this regard, we call upon the partners to build on their commendable supports received so far, for Africa to win the fight against AIDS, TB and Malaria.
“The Leaders earlier, during the meeting, pledged to intensify efforts towards ending Aids, TB and Malaria Review first year’s progress toward implementing the African Union Roadmap.”
The African leaders and other global officials met and reviewed progress toward implementing transformative reforms in the AIDS,Tuberculosis (TB) and malaria responses.
They pledged to accelerate the pace of increase in annual domestic funding for health care, particularly AIDS, TB and malaria services.
AIDS Watch Africa (AWA), an advocacy platform for African Heads of State on AIDS, TB and Malaria convened the meeting in Addis Ababa, on the side-lines of the AU summit celebrating 50 years of African Unity.
The leaders also reviewed progress made in implementing a Roadmap on Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity for AIDS, TB and Malaria Response in Africa, which they adopted last July to chart a new course for the continent’s response to the three diseases.
As leaders committed to a healthy continent, “we must redouble our efforts to ensure universal access to HIV, TB and Malaria services in order to attain zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths, as well as the elimination of TB and Malaria,” Haile-Mariam Desalegne, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who is also the chairman of the AU and AIDS Watch Africa, said.
The AU Commission (AUC) Chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, said that adopting new health financing measures would demonstrate Africa’s strong political commitment to the health and development of its people.
“Our continent is demonstrating strong political commitment and action by embracing transformative reforms to address AIDS, TB and malaria.
“To achieve the MDGs’ targets all Member States of the AU will need to develop sustainable investment plans which will shift the focus from reliance on external funding to innovative domestic resource mobilisation,” Zuma said.
AIDS Watch Africa was founded at the Abuja Special Summit in 2001 to set the agenda for top-level leadership for the African AIDS response and in January 2012 its mandate was expanded to include TB and Malaria.
The organisation took on the responsibility for monitoring progress toward the three action pillars of the Roadmap, which include : creating more diversified, balanced, and sustainable financing models; expanding access to medicines through local production and regulatory harmonisation and establishing strong leadership, governance, and oversight.
In his remarks at the meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said : “I celebrate your progress and I share your resolve to do even more.
“I urge you to continue investing in an AIDS-free Africa. This will improve the health, empowerment and human rights of your citizens.
“The recent success in responding to AIDS shows how Africa’s leaders are leading a wave of sustainable transformation in global health with African-sourced solutions.”
Also, UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, said African leadership is the elusive magic bullet that has irrevocably changed the course of the three diseases and now can do even more.
“I am confident that African leadership can be the pathfinder to better global health.”
To advance toward the roadmap’s first pillar, a number of countries have begun to implement innovative AIDS financing measures intended to reduce dependence on external funding.
According to Sidibé, Zimbabwe and Kenya now earmark a portion of domestic tax revenues for an AIDS Trust Fund, while countries such as Benin, Congo, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Rwanda, and Uganda have established special HIV levies on mobile phone usage or airfares.
Sidibe said, “taking a different approach, South Africa reduced its spending on anti-retroviral medications by 53 per cent by reforming its tender process to increase competition among suppliers.”
Meanwhile, Dr Mark Dybul, the Executive Director of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has praised the Heads of State and Government for their leadership on the issue.
He said with their resolve, AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria could become diseases of the past on the continent.
“We have a moment of historic greatness, and if we all work together with a sense of shared responsibility and coordinated action, we will defeat these diseases.
“Trans-continental partnerships have been established in the past year to improve the availability of affordable HIV treatment, a key goal of the second pillar of the roadmap.
“These include the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa Business Plan, which will support the scale-up of local drug manufacturing, and the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation Programme, which will help regulate drug quality and delivery systems so that lives are not lost because treatments are unsafe or unavailable.
“To improve leadership, governance, and oversight, the aim of the third pillar, a series of high-level meetings across the continent have been held over the past 12 months to reaffirm the urgency of the AIDS, TB and Malaria responses on the African agenda.”
Dybul lauded Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda and South Africa for integrating HIV programmes and oversight into their general health infrastructure, streamlining disease coordination and governance.
The Abuja+12 summit is expected to hold between July 10 and July 15 and would be preceded by experts’ meeting of development partners and stakeholders.