With the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals fast approaching over 60 partners from the African Union, Regional Economic Communities, civil society, UN organisations and development partners met in Brazzaville, Congo Wednesday through Friday to streamline harmonisation and coordination of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria responses.
“In the context of inadequate resources to respond to AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria effective coordination at national, regional, continental and global levels remains fundamental in ensuring effective, efficient and responsive disease interventions”,said Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, Commissioner for Social Affairs of the African Union Commission
The need for more effective coordination and efficient use of resources at continental and regional levels has become even more pressing as Regional Economic Communities and the African Union are expected to provide more proactive leadership to sustain the gains and strengthen health service delivery. Stronger and more effective cooperation between the African Union Commission and Regional Economic Communities and countries is vital for realising Africa’s commitment to the African Roadmap for Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity for AIDS, TB and Malaria (2012-2015) and related continental commitments.
“Doing more requires strengthening national health systems, which is a prerequisite for universal health coverage. A functional health system must be able to reach every person in every community with quality health services wherever and whenever needed irrespective of social status and disposable income of individuals and families”, said Dr. Luis G. Sambo, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
Over a decade of progress in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria
While significant challenges remain unprecedented progress has been made in responding to AIDS, TB and malaria. By the end of 2012, more than 7.5 million eligible people were receiving antiretroviral therapy. This represented coverage of 68%. Ten countries had reached the universal access coverage of more than 80%, based on the 2010 WHO ARV Guidelines. There has also been an overall decline of 37% in the number of new HIV infections among children between 2009 and 2012. The uptake of ARV for prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV has improved substantially with 63% of pregnant women living with HIV in the region receiving ARVs in 2012, an increase from 34% in 2009. Twelve countries have PMTCT ARV coverage rates of 80% or more, with five of them having reached the 2015 target of 90%.
The TB treatment success rate has continued to improve reaching 82% in 2012. The previously increasing incidence of TB has been halted and a decline observed as a result of several years of intensive implementation of the Stop TB strategy and the strengthening of TB/HIV collaborative activities. Over 75% of TB patients in the high HIV endemic countries of the Eastern and Southern Africa sub-region were tested for HIV and nearly half accessed ARVs in 2012.
The malaria burden in countries has been considerably reduced. Eleven countries with on-going malaria transmission have achieved reductions in malaria incidence of at least 50%. Between 2001 and 2012, an estimated 337 million malaria cases and 3 million deaths were averted in the African Region.
Next steps for the Abuja Call
Partners recommended among others the need to participate in the processes to position AIDS, TB and malaria prominently in the post 2015 development agenda; prioritising investments for AIDS, TB and malaria responses in Nigeria and DRC which have the major disease burden and supporting the development of investment cases and economic arguments for increased domestic and international investment in AIDS, TB and malaria including consideration of counterpart funding as a viable option.
Implementation of the Action Plan for Women, Girls and HIV/AIDS in Conflict and Post Conflicts Settings in Africa
Partners also pledged to prioritise the prevention of violence and gender- based violence and include it in the national action plan with targets; develop in country capacity for violence prevention and strengthen integrated health system approach for violence and HIV prevention in women and girls.