Archbishop Tutu Calls on Governments To Address Health Issues in Africa, Including HIV/AIDS
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Tuesday at the World Health Assembly in Geneva called on governments to increase their efforts to fight diseases -- including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria -- in Africa, the Associated Press reports. "We cannot lose Africa," Tutu said, adding that the "cradle of humankind" is threatened by "disease, conflict and destruction." According to Tutu, many diseases would be preventable if governments had the political will to increase their health spending. He said that African leaders should fulfill pledges made in 2001 to allocate at least 15% of their national budgets to health, adding that this could prevent eight million unnecessary deaths on the continent.
In addition, Tutu said that children in Africa are dying from "easily preventable diseases if they could but get the inexpensive vaccination inoculations." According to Tutu, many medicines and vaccines are ineffective in parts of Africa where electricity is not available to keep them refrigerated.
Tutu noted that many WHA delegates are "particularly aware of the devastation caused by disease" -- including TB, malaria, HIV/AIDS, river blindness, polio, cholera, infant mortality and maternal illnesses. He also said that the World Health Organization has a "tenacious commitment" to global health issues and praised WHO Director-General Margaret Chan for her efforts to address the "monumental health concerns of Africa and the health of women and girls" (Associated Press, 5/20).