Delegates Agree To Focus on HIV/AIDS, Other Issues Hindering African Development at Close of Tokyo Conference
Delegates at the close of the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Yokohama, Japan, on Friday agreed to focus on health issues, including HIV/AIDS, on the continent, the Kyodo News/TMCnet reports. In the Yokohama declaration, delegates also pledged to pay "special attention" to issues -- such as health, poverty and food insecurity -- that are hindering African development.
Conference participants discussed strategies to help African nations meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and agreed it would be a "difficult task" for the continent to achieve the goals by 2015 in part because of the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases. The delegates also reaffirmed commitments to increase efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, and infant and maternal mortality on the continent. In addition, the delegates called on the Group of Eight industrialized nations to honor their commitments to provide development aid to Africa.
Africa's progress toward meeting the MDGs will be monitored by a three-tier follow-up plan developed at the conference. Under the plan, participants will produce an annual progress report. A list of proposed strategies to help Africa meet the goals, as well as possible contributions from stakeholders, also are included in the plan.
Africa "made its case during this meeting," Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete said, adding that delegates "heard very strong voices at this meeting championing not just for increased aid but also for increased trade and investment and for more private-sector participation" in helping African nations address HIV/AIDS and other issues that are hindering development. U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro added that the delegates established "a way forward" to help Africa meet the MDGs and "have charted" out how the continent can achieve the goals.
During the conference, the Japanese government pledged 43 billion yen, or about $409 million, to be used for health programs in Africa over the next five years. Japan also pledged to provide assistance for education, infrastructure, water, sanitation and agriculture (Kyodo News/TMCnet, 5/30). In addition, Japan will train 100,000 health care workers over the next five years to help address Africa's shortage of health care workers.
The conference was co-organized by the Japanese government, the U.N. Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, the U.N. Development Program and the World Bank (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/29). More than 2,500 delegates attended the conference, the largest since the first TICAD in 1993. The next conference will be held in 2013, the Kyodo News/TMCnet reports (Kyodo News/TMCnet, 5/30).