African Governments tasked to invest more in AIDS

Accra, Jan. 29, GNA – The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, has called on African Governments to take on a greater share of AIDS investments in their countries and Africa.

He said: “Africa is too dependent on external resources, especially for the AIDS response. This is a source of great risk and potential instability. The status quo cannot be sustained—it is time for a new development paradigm that is developed and owned by the leaders of Africa.”

In a release issued by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Secretariat, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, Mr Sidibé made the call when he addressed Heads of State and Government attending the African Union Summit, in Addis Ababa.

He said financing a sustainable response to the HIV epidemic in Africa would require home-grown and innovative solutions that would meet the needs of Africans.

An estimated two-thirds of AIDS expenditure in Africa come from international funding, according to a new UNAIDS tracks titled “AIDS dependency crisis: sourcing African solutions.”

The release noted that vast majority of life-saving antiretroviral medicines consumed in Africa were imported from generic manufacturers.

It said the cost of HIV drug regimens have declined significantly in recent years, they remained high and unsustainable, and prices must be further reduced to reach all people eligible for treatment.

UNAIDS estimated that Africa will require between 11-12 billion dollars for its AIDS response by 2015, and 3-4 billion dollars more than the current expenditure.

Revenue could be obtained by taxing alcohol and tobacco consumption or the use of mobile telephones and  additional funding could be leveraged through public-private partnerships with 2 Africa’s increasingly powerful companies.

African leaders could also explore the wider use of “soft loans” from the African Development Bank.

The UNAIDS Executive Director, according to the release, outlined opportunities for strengthened ownership of development investments in Africa and said a single African Medicines Regulatory Agency could expedite the roll-out of quality-assured HIV drugs.

The development of centers of excellence in Africa could catalyze the local production of high-quality HIV medicines and build Africa’s knowledge-based economy, the release noted.

Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD, who also addressed the media after the meeting, noted that reaching the 10 targets in the 2011 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, would only be possible through increased investment in the HIV response by African countries.

“The current development model is not sustainable, particularly in this global economic downturn. African leaders must take greater ownership of AIDS investments across the region,” he said.

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