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U.N. Secretary-General Focuses On MDGs During African Union Summit

Addressing the 14th African Union (AU) Summit on Sunday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for African countries to maintain their commitment to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), “which include reducing poverty, disease and child mortality, ahead of their target date of 2015,” BBC reports (1/31).

“The global recession, energy crisis, food insecurity and climate change have all made development more difficult and more urgent, [Ban] told more than 50 heads of state and government attending the three-day AU meeting” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the U.N. News Centre writes. Ban noted that the MDG summit, planned for September, “will focus on harnessing support for the success of the MDGs, identifying gaps that need urgent attention, emphasizing priority areas for action and building a coalition capable of taking action,” according to the U.N. News Centre (1/31).

“We have seen a sharp decrease in malaria and measles deaths across the continent, virtual gains in primary school enrolment, marked improvement in child health,” Ban said, according to the BBC. “We must build on these successes and help spread them around the world” (1/31). Also during the summit, Ban announced the formation of an advocacy group for MDGs, Press Trust of India reports (2/1).

Joy Online examines the efforts of an African civil society coalition to get African leaders gathered at the AU Summit to follow through on their promise to increase their health spending. “In 2001, AU member states promised to increase their spending on health to a minimum of 15% of their national budgets,” the news service writes. “Only six countries – Botswana , Burkina Faso , Malawi , Niger , Rwanda and Zambia – have reached the target that they set themselves nine years ago,” according to Joy Online.

“2010 must be a year when our leaders demonstrate Africa ‘s humanity by meeting their commitments to provide healthcare for all their people,” said Mabalane Mfundisi, head of the Fair Play for Africa coalition. “To do this, we need political will, more funds and greater transparency by governments so that citizens can see how their money is being spent. We will also need the support of donor governments for an African-led plan to accelerate our progress in meeting the MDGs” (1/31).