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African Governments Fall Short On Health Spending Pledges, WHO Data Show

“Twelve years after African governments pledged in the Abuja Declaration to allocate at least 15 percent of their annual budgets to health care by 2015, just six countries have met this goal,” IRIN reports. “Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Togo and Zambia have met the target, and five other countries are spending at least 13 percent of their annual budgets on health, according to data compiled by the [WHO],” the news service writes, noting, “While on aggregate spending on health has increased — up to 10.6 percent from 8.8 — about a quarter of African Union (A.U.) member-states have regressed and are now spending less on health than they were in 2001, adds the WHO data.” The news service adds, “At present, funding for health care remains short of requirements and is very unevenly spread across countries,” noting, “According to UNAIDS, an additional $31 billion per year will be needed to meet the continent’s 15 percent health funding targets.”

Noting the A.U. last week “held another special summit on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria in Abuja, Nigeria, dubbed Abuja +12, which provided an opportunity for African governments and other stakeholders to review progress made and to discuss what should be done to ensure health funding targets are met before 2015,” the news service continues, “According to [a joint A.U.-UNAIDS report launched at the summit], there is an economic case to be made for further investment in health care: For every year that life expectancy rises across the continent, it argues, GDP will increase by four percent.” IRIN provides quotes from UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and A.U. Commissioner of Social Affairs Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko (7/23). In a related article, Nigeria’s “Daily Trust” interviews Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), “on the need [to] increase budgetary allocation for health, as dependence on external funding according to him introduces a sense of insecurity” (7/23).