U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Mataka Urges SADC Members To Commit 15% of National Budgets to Health Care
United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Elizabeth Mataka on Wednesday ahead of a two-day conference in Lusaka, Zambia, called on leaders from Southern African Development Community member nations to ensure that their commitment of allocating 15% of their national budgets to the health care sector is realized, APA/Afrique en ligne reports (APA/Afrique en ligne, 8/16).
Leaders during an African Union summit in Abuja, Nigeria, in April 2001 pledged to commit more resources to health care and set a target of allocating 15% of their national budgets toward improving the sector, Xinhua News Agency reports. Out of the 53 A.U. member states, only two countries have met the 15% target, and only one member nation of the SADC has done so, according to Xinhua News Agency.
According to Mataka, the SADC region has the greatest burden of HIV/AIDS prevalence and has a large share of new HIV cases -- a trend that has led to a reversal in developmental gains that the region has accomplished during the last few decades. "The 15% pledge should be highest on the agenda" of the Lusaka SADC 2007 Summit of Heads of State and Government, she said, adding, "SADC leaders and all AU leaders should be accountable to their people." She called on the "distinguished heads of state meeting in Lusaka at this time to look at AIDS, TB, malaria in the context of a broader picture of poverty, underdevelopment and inequality" (Xinhua News Agency, 8/15). Improving the health sector and HIV/AIDS services would build confidence, demonstrate political commitment, and attract additional international support and funding, Mataka said (APA/Afrique en ligne, 8/16).