President Goodluck Jonathan said in Abuja on Monday that efforts aimed at effective optimisation of the abundant potential in Africa had for too long been hindered by instability, insecurity and infectious diseases.
He said Africans were anxious for tangible results and concrete actions by governments of their various countries aimed at improving their quality of life.
Jonathan spoke at the African Union Heads of State and Governments Special Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria tagged ‘Abuja+12’ in Abuja.
Jonathan stressed the importance of collective efforts by continental leaders to meet the needs of the people, saying there was the need for home-grown initiatives.
He said, “For too long, political instability, insecurity and infectious diseases have beclouded our efforts at rapid development and effective optimisation of the abundant potential of our continent.
“However, today, there is renewed hope that together and with home-grown initiatives, we can systematically and comprehensively address these tough challenges.
“Our people are anxious for tangible results and concrete action to improve their quality of life. As we look forward to a productive summit, meeting the needs of our people by achieving these goals should be our collective resolve.”
Jonathan said the summit, coming soon after the 50th anniversary of the AU, signified the importance of health as pivotal to the peace, security and development of the continent.
He observed that the infectious diseases of HIV/ADS, Tuberculosis and Malaria remain major causes of morbidity and mortality in Africa, thereby posing serious challenges to the continent’s aspirations for sustainable socio-economic development.
“Undoubtedly, across Africa, infectious diseases have not only slowed down economic growth, they have contributed to the depletion of human capital, food insecurity and high maternal and child mortality,” he said.
He said it was in realisation of the challenges that mother-to-child transmission of HIV, treatment of people with HIV, polio, maternal and child mortality and TB were currently receiving attention from his government.
The President observed that despite the giant strides so far recorded towards reducing the diseases, the continent was still far from sufficiently securing the well-being of its people and their future.
To consolidate on the progress in addressing the burden of the diseases, Jonathan said the continent must develop a stronger home-grown sustainable health financing framework and take ownership of the process while driving its implementation.
He called for support for the Global Fund by the United Nations and G-8, which is one of the outcomes of the 2001 Abuja Summit on the three diseases.
He added that it was in the light of that that he accepted to co-chair the fourth replenishment of the Global Fund.
The President called on his colleagues to support him to ensure that Africa made a big statement at the replenishment meeting which would hold in the last quarter of the year.
He said, “The time is ripe for a final and concerted solution to these diseases. The human, societal and financial costs of inadequate action or no action at all will be too grievous to contemplate.
“To attain universal access and meet the Millennium Development Goals, we must now do things differently. We must set clear and decisive goals and identify and implement the best adaptable strategies for best and quickest results.
“I strongly advocate that Africa should look inwards in the search for solutions. We must begin to de-emphasise reliance on external funding and importation of essential medicines for our treatment programmes.
“We must stand in solidarity with one another, be proactive to our health challenges and increase inter-continental scientific research partnerships and development efforts to complement the various national and regional plans already underway.
“Ownership and sustainability should form the basis of our next plan of actions. Our goal should be to find local solutions to our challenges, translate planning into implementation and develop our continent at the pace we desire.
“Without doubt, more funding will be required to achieve these laudable objectives. At the same time, we must un-relentlessly strengthen synergy between governments and other stakeholders to reduce duplication of efforts and waste of resources.”
Jonathan used the opportunity of the summit to formally present a Comprehensive Response Plan on HIV/AIDS for Nigeria which is targeted at achieving universal access to the prevention, treatment, care and support to all Nigerians living with HIV/AIDS.
He explained that the plan would help his administration to bridge existing service gaps, address key financial system and promote greater responsibility and accountability for HIV/ADS responses at national and sub-national levels.