Written by Henry Neondo
At a meeting in Abuja , Nigeria on Monday, presidents in Africa renewed their commitments to fight AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria and undertook to scale up actions aimed at eliminating the three epidemics as part of an overall goal to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030.
Meant to leverage on the chance to evaluate and identify factors that causes persistent burden of HIV, TB and Malaria in Africa, as well as, the status of health financing, the heads of governments and their representatives from all of the 54 African Union (AU) members committed to increase domestic spending for health but did not set any specific targets for such an increase.
The Summit Declaration called for increased coverage and access to TB detection and treatment for all, including for Multi-Drug Resistant TB, TB in children and a special focus on vulnerable groups.
It also called for a stronger involvement of communities in TB interventions and for increased integration of HIV and TB programmes.
It supported the plan by the Southern African Development Community to hold a summit on TB and mining.
Nigeria’s leader Goodluck Jonathan made an impassionate plea to his African colleagues to exploit local means of tackling not only HIV but also tuberculosis, malaria and other related infectious diseases.
"I am very pleased to see the AU setting ambitious goals, and I am particularly pleased that the African leaders stress the integration of the work to fight the three diseases," said Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership. "The first Abuja conference on the three diseases twelve years ago initiated the tremendous progress we have seen over the past decade. Today's declaration will help drive the momentum and keep ambitions high over the coming years."
The African leaders also urged full funding for the Global Fund. The Global Fund is asking for US$15 billion for the coming three years; the majority of this funding would benefit Africa.
Support for the growth of the continent's own pharmaceutical industry featured strongly, both in the declaration from the meeting and during the discussions.
The two-day summit with the theme, "Ownership, Accountability and Sustainability to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Response in Africa: Past, Present and Future”, was attended by most African leaders.