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General News of Monday, 19 May 2008

Source: GNA

Africa Public Health campaign launched

Accra, May 19, GNA - The campaign to get African leaders to commit 15 per dent of their national budgets to health has been launched in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Dubbed; "Africa Public Health 15 per cent Now Campaign", it is a 30-day countdown to the mid-year African Union summit which would be held in Egypt from June 24.

The countdown, which started from May 15 and would end on June 15, is aimed at mobilising national level and continental support for a civil society message to urge African heads of state to restate their commitment to and urgently implement the Abuja 2001 pledge to allocate 15 per cent of national budgets to health.

In a statement to launch the countdown, the Coordinator, Mr Rotimi Sankore, stated: "The countdown to the coming African Union summit is an opportunity for Africans and friends of Africa of all persuasions to remind African heads of state and government to meet their commitments to health development and financing.

Unlike any other matter, disease and non-disease issues affect every single person regardless of age, religion, race, gender or any other consideration. " He said African citizens, unlike many leaders, did not have the options of going abroad to treat illnesses.

"Indeed it is a vote of no confidence in their own health systems and lack of faith in their own governments' ability to provide health care that leads many of our leaders to flee abroad at the slightest sign of ill health." Mr Sankori therefore called on African civil society and citizens to sign on to the message to the summit and the rolling petition to the AU and member states. The message states: "The new Chair of the African Union Commission, His Excellency Jean Ping of Gabon, has an excellent opportunity to utilise the implementation of the Abuja 15 per cent pledge to actualise the implementation of the AU Health Strategy and other health frameworks finalised last year by the AU Social Affairs Commission under the leadership of his predecessor Professor Alpha Konare." The first phase of presentation of the message to African heads of state would be done at the national levels on June 15 while the presentation to the AU would be done in Egypt on the eve of the Summit. A series of solidarity and campaign events would be also organised at national levels during the countdown.

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