Under the Abuja Declaration in 2001, the leaders had agreed to spend at least 15 per cent of their national budgets, excluding donor contributions, on health. However, only six countries of Botswana, Rwanda, Niger, Malawi, Zambia and Burkina are currently meeting this target. Mr Jean Ping, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, told journalists that it was agreed that a campaign on accelerated reduction of maternal mortality in Africa be strengthened. The campaign has so far been launched in 16 countries.
"We want an Africa where women need not die because they are giving life," said Mr Ping. Earlier, Ms Bience Gawanas, the commissioner for Social Affairs at the AU, said the heads of state had agreed to at least eight action points to be undertaken over the next five years.
The leaders agreed to strengthen health systems, develop integrated health plans, and provide strong support for sharing good practices. The leaders also agreed to follow up on the G8 pledge on maternal and newborn children, request the Global Fund to finance maternal and child health programmes and introduce annual maternal deaths reviews which they said will give countries more accurate data on the extent of maternal deaths across the continent.
"The leaders have also committed to report annually to the assembly. In other words, we want to have maternal and child health as a standing agenda item for the next five years and to request the AU commission to establish a continental task force on maternal and child health," Ms Gawanas said.
Source: The Monitor (Kampala, Uganda)