Political Will Necessary To Uphold Commitments Made At Conferences Such As A.U. Health Summit
“Dubbed a ‘special summit’ on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, the [African Union] summit has brought together African leaders in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to discuss progress in alleviating the threats posed by the three diseases,” Al Jazeera’s Azad Essa writes in the news service’s “Africa” blog. “And yet a trip to Abuja+12 to discuss ‘progress’ could be considered superfluous,” he states, adding, “A simple stroll down to a local clinic in Yibe, Addis Ababa or Khayelitsha in Cape Town or Kibera in Nairobi would give a true account of actual progress made in combating these diseases on the continent.” He continues, “For anyone ever affected by TB, malaria or HIV/AIDS, directly or indirectly, which is a majority of Africans, these summits and their grandly worded commitments usually mean little.”
“Commitments, as they turn out, are a lot more difficult in practice than they are in principle,” Essa writes, adding, “In fact, despite the notion of an ‘Africa Rising,’ the continent still has just two percent of the world’s physicians and accounts for just one percent of health spending.” He continues, “Of course, it is not all doom and gloom. There has been remarkable progress in countries that are not plagued by conflict.” He provides statistics about health and development in Africa and states, “The resurgent interest in the continent has injected an optimistic realism to segments of African leadership who recognize that only a healthy population can take advantage of Africa’s potential. Not only do Africans feel more empowered to tackle their own problems, advancements in generic medical technology offers far more accessible, cheaper solutions.” He concludes, “Crucially, a new, connected, youthful generation will demand that these issues are taken seriously” (7/16).