AU Summit: Less rhetoric and more action needed to save women and childrens' lives
As African leaders return home from the AU Summit, they must now take immediate action to implement the maternal and child health promises they have made here, a coalition of civil society organizations said today.
The coalition said the summit's final declaration included some positive steps that if fully implemented could save the lives of millions of African women and children. Yet it will be meaningless if it is not now acted upon.
The coalition includes Fair Play for Africa, FEMNET, Oxfam, Save the Children and the White Ribbon Alliance.
In particular the organizations welcomed decisions to invest more in community health workers and re-commit to meeting the so-called Abuja target of investing 15% of national budgets in healthcare. However, the Abuja promise was made in 2001 and this year only three countries – namely Rwanda, Tanzania, and Liberia – have met the target, according to recent World Health Organization statistics.
The coalition said that words alone are meaningless unless they are backed up by concrete and consistent actions, and leaders must ensure dedicated funding for maternal, newborn and child health over the next five years.
Nora Matovu-Winyi, Executive Director of FEMNET, said: "African leaders must now come up with concrete plans and timetables to show how they are going to re-orientate their policies, programmes and budgets to eradicate maternal and child deaths in Africa. No woman should die while giving birth."
During the three days of the Heads of State Summit, an estimated 37,000 children and over 2,000 women died across Africa, mostly from illnesses that with better policies and investment could be prevented and treated.
Some leaders at the summit expressed concern that they do not have the money to prioritise healthcare.
"The irony of the lack-of-resources excuse is that Malawi, a very poor country, has dramatically cut child deaths in recent years, exactly because they did make that goal a priority," said Chikezie Anyanwu, Save the Children's Africa Advocacy Advisor.
Malawi is now one of only 10 African nations on track to meet Millennium Development Goal 4 – reducing child deaths by two thirds of 1990 levels by 2015. Progress on reaching Millennium Development Goal 5 – reducing maternal deaths by three fourths, has been even slower in Africa.
"Until recently Malawi was also meeting the Abuja pledge of 15% expenditure for health. We hope that the news that they are "on track" doesn't give the impression that they can now step back from this pledge," continued Anyanwu.
African leaders in Kampala pledged to reduce out-of-pocket health care expenses, through strategies including making obstetric care and care for children under five free. They must follow through on this and other promises that could save millions of lives, the coalition said.
Desire Assogbavi, Head of Oxfam's AU Liaison office in Addis Ababa, said: "While this declaration is a positive step, most of it has been promised before but has never been delivered. Only 10% of AU decisions are effectively implemented. There is a need to immediately put in place comprehensive tracking and monitoring mechanisms to ensure the decisions are fully implemented at national level. African people are tired of rhetoric – now they need to see real change in their daily lives".
African governments must accelerate the delivery of a comprehensive package of the development goals. A key step would be to publicly announce timetables and timeframes leading up to 2015, the target date for the U.N. Millennium Development Goals.
For interviews & information please call:
- Charles Bambara: +256 - 75 74 13 857
- Alun McDonald: +254 - 73 66 66 663
- Tanya Weinberg: +256 - 787 952-037
Scandalous: $18.5 trillion hidden in #taxhavens = $156bn lost in revenue which could help fight poverty http://t.co/8cc9k6F9d6 #taxdodging2 hours 57 min ago
Apple under scrutiny for #taxdodging, shows “unbelievable chutzpah.” http://t.co/XIL06OCU1A @nytimes #taxhavens9 hours 25 min ago
#Lille France-UK #Transparency Conference: Follow our @benphillips76 @LucLampriere @HannahStoddart. See also @pcanfin #landgrabs #taxdodging11 hours 18 min ago
Pls consider donating to our #SyriaCrisis Appeal. $10 covers basic needs items for 1 person for a month http://t.co/HtJ1uzYBpa11 hours 30 min ago
UN has now registered +1.3m #refugees. One of them, Leka'a, has kindly shared her v personal story w us http://t.co/TQHewOBFIc #SyriaCrisis12 hours 3 min ago
#Hunger will be the face of the future without govt & aid policy reform http://t.co/ryFcadlsXF MT @TR_Foundation via @katymigiro13 hours 38 min ago
RT @OxfamEAfrica: The great @Oxfam team at the #AUSummit this week - @mynassah @ShuksG @MuleyaM @JMwanjisi @NicholasNgigi @assodesire @Ja…14 hours 3 min ago
#Cyclone Mahasen: we're working with #Bangladesh govt & other agencies to assess needs http://t.co/I1orTbX0HJ #humanitarian14 hours 57 min ago
RT @oxfamgbpress: The most fearless women on earth http://t.co/72kW0cBMdW via @Fabulousmag includes an Afghan woman who works with @Oxfam15 hours 16 min ago
#India communities most affected by #climate change learning to adapt using #renewable energy http://t.co/QuNn1H8MDe #resilience15 hours 27 min ago
Disasters happen but the #inequality of risk is no accident. Our new report on #resilience http://t.co/XDMrZ3eK7r #climate16 hours 27 min ago
No accident millions at risk 2 disasters: Fundamental shift needed in power/politics http://t.co/NgcQrVEFfy #climate #inequality #resilience16 hours 52 min ago
More on the global land rush: @Global_Witness report on logging in #Cambodia http://t.co/2G6Qm7vHgx @TheEconomist #landgrabs19 hours 14 min ago
How to avoid 'sustainability fatigue': short hit-list for business leaders via @GuardianSustBiz http://t.co/GavVllQYkw #susdev20 hours 14 min ago
RT @revenuewatch: New @Oxfam post explains what works in the fight against #corruption! http://t.co/1nF9FWykjL via @fp2p1 day 7 hours ago