Intense Discussions in Abuja Part of Push to Keep HIV, Malaria, and TB High on Development Agenda
It might be the rainy season in Abuja, Nigeria, but the hotels and restaurants of this capital city in the exact center of the country are swarming with diplomats, activists, and politicians – all lobbying to have their concerns expressed during the various meetings taking place around the Abuja +12 Summit.
The Summit is happening twelve years after the Abuja Declaration, which committed African states to dedicating 15 percent of their national expenditures on health needs in their countries. The meeting aims to review progress in implementing commitments in twelve thematic areas on AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The Summit is also reviewing efforts on the continent to address maternal, newborn, and child health. Most critically, it will adopt a set of actions to enhance Africa’s response to improve the health status of Africans by strengthening health systems and ensuring universal access to services.
On July 5 and 6, members of civil society organizations, including EGPAF, gathered for intense discussions to hammer out a set of recommended actions for consideration by the Heads of States and Governments at the Special Summit.
After the civil society meeting, there was an Experts Meeting where health experts presented on various topics to inform discussions and provide a basis for a final experts report to be presented to the Summit. At this meeting, EGPAF provided an overview of the issues raised in the consultations on health as a contribution to the post-2015 development agenda, which is directly linked to the concerns being discussed at the Summit.
Draft recommendations circulated on the second day of the Experts Meeting led to passionate discussions on critical issues felt to be missing from the document. Issues cited as necessary included human rights, the need to consult with people living with HIV/AIDS to best assess their needs, the psycho-social support needed by people living with HIV/AIDS, stigma and discrimination, the importance of strengthening the healthcare workforce and health systems, violence against women, and gender inequality.
It was gratifying for EGPAF to hear several delegates raise concerns about the needs of children living with HIV, and the treatment disparity between adults and children.
Strong concerns were also expressed regarding problems created by disease-specific funding streams for global health programs, and trying to ensure that these mistakes are not repeated in the post-2015 era, with the need for integration being stressed.
EGPAF provided input to the final recommendations coming out of the Experts Meeting, suggesting that Heads of State work to ensure that health is at the core of the post-2015 development agenda. While a great deal of work has been done over the past few days, it all hinges on this week’s Assembly of Heads of States and Governments where new commitments will be negotiated, determining the continent’s priorities for HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria for the next decade and beyond.
Rhoda Igweta is Senior Public Policy Officer for the Foundation, based in Nairobi, Kenya. Eliane Drakopoulos is Public Policy Officer for the Foundation, based in Geneva, Switzerland.