Push for higher government health budgets

September 25, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 25 – Activists in the continent will on Tuesday hold demonstrations to mark the global day of action to push African governments to increase their domestic health budgets to at least 15 percent in line with the 2001 Abuja Declaration.

In Kenya activists plan to match from Afya House through the City centre and end at Uhuru Park during which they intend to hand over memoranda to the Ministries of Medical Services, Public Health, Finance and planning.

“If we are not able to meet the Abuja Declaration then we will not be able to put people on treatment, prevent new HIV infections and prevent maternal health or mother to child infections,” said  ActionAid HIV and AIDs coordinator Pascaline Kang’ethe on Saturday.

“We are bringing this to enlighten the public and dismiss the notion that HIV/Aids in is not over funded. Actually the problem is that health is under funded.”

Only six African countries have met the declaration led by Rwanda, Botswana and Djibouti. Others are Liberia, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone.

Kenya has also gradually raised the allocations and currently allocates 10 percent of its national budget to financing health. Last year the government signed an agreement with the American government that will see both increase allocations to health.

Whereas the US will raise its donor funding to the PEPFAR (The President\’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief) programme while the government pledged to increase domestic funding for health by 40 percent over four years. Kenya met its first target this year with a 10 percent increase.

“This should be an example to other countries. We call on the government to go on with this progress over the remaining three years,” said a statement by ActionAid.

Ms Kang’ethe said the memorandums will outline action points for the country to help in increasing access to health for all Kenyans as provided for in the new Constitution.

“We will also highlight the monies that governments use on unnecessary luxuries that could go into financing health needs like providing treated nets and anti-retroviral drugs,” she said.

The memorandums will also be handed over to various development bodies in the country including the United Nations office.

The marches across the continent also aim at pushing the developed world to meet their commitments to the Global Fund and eliminate a $20 billion gap for the tenth round. Ms Kang’ethe said developing countries were worried that many donor countries were backtracking on their commitments.

“If they are not able to meet the money needed then we will not be able to move towards universal access to health,” said Ms Kang’ethe.

Global Fund was established in 2002 to fight AIDS, tuberdulosis and Malaria. After missing out in round nine, Kenya has now applied for $500 million for round ten which is the next disbursement.


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