Vice President Aliu Mahama on Monday urged African governments to increase spending in the health sector, especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, to enable the continent to achieve universal access and the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

In April 2001, Heads of African governments at a summit in Abuja, Nigeria, signed a declaration in which they pledged to allocate at least 15 per cent of their annual budgets to the improvement of the health sector.

While steady progress has been made, Vice President Aliu told participants at the opening of a seminar on grassroots NGO capacity building that, most countries were still far away from achieving the target.

The three-day seminar is being attended by 60 African health-focused grassroots organizations from 26 African countries.

“While steady progress is being made we are still considerably beneath the mark. The momentum is gaining grounds and must be sustained from administration to administration. We owe this to ourselves and our children because there is no Africa without Africans,” he said.

It is being organized by an NGO, Friends Africa and Africaso, to deepen response to the fight against the three pandemics.

AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria kill six million people each year and Africa alone accounts for about 70 per cent of worldwide infections caused by the three pandemics.

In 2007, the continent also saw over 75 per cent of all AIDS related deaths.

“These three diseases are devastating our human resources thereby taking a heavy toll on Africa’s most vulnerable people,” Vice President Aliu said and added that the prevalence of diseases played a large role in perpetuating the vicious cycle of poverty and reduction in life expectancy.

He lauded the contribution of Global Fund, an innovative mechanism that supports Africa, especially in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria.

So far the fund has committed $200 million to the fight of the diseases in the country and called for openness and accountability from all.

“The mandate of saving lives is a very huge one. We need to demonstrate to our donors and beneficiaries that we are accountable and achieving results, for Africa’s well-being is hanging in the balance and we cannot fail,” he emphasized.

Vice President Aliu urged the business community to use their resources to support the business of saving lives.

Source: GNA