President Goodluck Jonathan has said that continued dependant on external funding to combat the scourge of HIV/AIDs and deadly diseases like tuberculosis and malaria will not augur well for the African continent.
Speaking on Monday at the opening of a two-day Special Summit of the African Union on HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis and malaria at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, President Jonathan, told his counterparts who gathered for the summit that the time to look inwards is now.
According to him, the diseases are affecting the continent’s socio-economic development so badly that leaders must begin to collaborate on how to find the remedies on the continent without depending on foreign medicines.
President Jonathan said, “We must begin to de-emphasize reliance on external funding and importation of essential medicines required for our treatment programmes.
“We must stand in solidarity with one another, be proactive to our health challenges and increase inter-continental scientific research partnerships and development efforts to compliment the various national and regional plans already underway.
“Ownership and sustainability should form the basis of our next plan of actions. Our goal should be to find local solutions to our challenges, translate planning into implementation, and develop our continent at the pace we desire.
“For too long, political instability, insecurity and infectious diseases have beclouded our efforts at rapid development and effective optimization of the abundant potentials of our continent.
“However, today, there is renewed hope that together and with home-grown initiatives, we can systematically and comprehensively address these tough challenges.
“Our people are anxious for tangible results and concrete action to improve the quality of life.
As we look forward to a productive summit, meeting the needs of our people by achieving these goals should be our collective resolve,’’ he said.
President Jonathan the AU Chairperson, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn.
presented Nigeria’s Programmes of Action and Developed Blueprint for HIV/AIDS to the gathering.
Also speaking in the same vein, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma lamented that the diseases under focus- HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria have continued to be serious challenges to Africa’s economic growth and development.
While noting that a lot still needs to be done to rid the continent of deadly diseases, the chairperson however noted that some level of achievements have been recorded from 2001 to date.
She said no fewer than 30 million people have benefited from treatment for tuberculosis, while malaria infection has also reduced by one-third. Also, she said HIV/AIDs annual rate of infection of HIV/AIDS had fallen by 25 per cent while death rate had reduced by 32 per cent since the Abuja Declaration of 2011.
In his speech the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, who was represented by the executive Director of UNFPA, Prof Babatunde Osotimehin, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, said HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases remain significant threat to the well being and development in sub-Saharan Africa.
He therefore, charged African leaders to do more in fighting the diseases. “Every minute a child dies of malaria, one in 20 adults lives with HIV, TB infection rates are highest in the world, with more than 260 cases per 100,000 people in 2011 while many Africans endure the double burden of HIV and TB.
“This summit can provide a tipping point in Africa’s progress on health, let us place AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria at the centre of public health policy,” Mr.Ki-Moon said.