Friday, July 30, 2010



Friday, 23rd July, 2010
Participants at the forum on strengthening gender equality in the AU at Hotel Africana on Wednesday

Participants at the forum on strengthening gender equality in the AU at Hotel Africana on Wednesday

By Taddeo Bwambale
Leaders meeting for the 4th African Union SUMMIT in Kampala should address the long-term health situation in their countries, in addition to increasing health budgets to 15%.

Rotimi Sankore of the African Public Health Alliance observed that although some states have made progress in addressing maternal and child health by increasing their budgets, they are still far below the 40% allocation recommended by the World Health Organisation.

“Allocating 15% to health is not adequate. It also requires investment in other social determinants such as a skilled workforce, access to water and a better environment,” he said. He was speaking at the pre-AU SUMMIT media briefing on health and social development in Africa, held at Hotel Triangle on Thursday.

He cited the 2010 Africa Maternal Health Scorecard and the 2010 Africa Health Financing Scorecard, both of which indicate that African states are slow in achieving three of the Millennium Development Goals — Goal 4, which seeks to reduce child mortality, Goal 5 to improve maternal health, and Goal 6 of combating HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The reports also show that absence of skilled workers at birth is the leading cAUse of maternal death.
Sankore criticised leaders for being complacent about meeting the 15% health budget target, which he blamed on lack of political will.

Prof Francis Omaswa, the executive director of the African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation, asked governments to adopt innovative health financing systems to increase access to health services.

He proposed the establishment of community insurance schemes, levies on products, charity events and outreaches as ways of raising funds to support healthcare.

He observed that over 95% of all illnesses were lifestyle-related and urged people to observe better personal health. “We should recognise that when people die, it is not God who has called them or that their time has come. We should blame our weaknesses and our health system,” he said.

He asked the public to be proactive and demand quality health services from their leaders.

“The key role of any government is to ensure that its people are healthy,” he said, adding that governments should have retention schemes to ensure that health workers are motivated to work in rural areas.