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Health Groups Welcome Africa's New Malaria Initiative


African leaders have launched a new program to eradicate nearly all malaria deaths on the continent in the next six years.

The 20 member African Leaders Malaria Alliance was announced Wednesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York.

Doctor Paul Zeitz, Executive Director, Global AIDS Alliance said the new malaria initiative is encouraging. But he said in order for the new program to succeed, African countries and their international counterparts must keep the commitments they've already made.

“We need to continue investing in the response, building on the success today, fixing problems in every country. So that requires every African government to keep their commitments to provide 15 percent of their national budgets towards the health sector…and if that doesn’t happen then we’re not going to see this goal met,” he said.

Doctor Zeitz said up to date only a few African governments have kept their promise to devote 15 percent of their national budgets to the health sector, a commitment he said was first made in 2001 and reaffirmed in 2006.

He also said the international community needs to meet its commitment to support Africa’s endeavor to reach its target of eradicating malaria in Africa by 2015.

“That requires full funding for the Global Funds for AIDS and malaria. For example, the Fund right now is in a massive funding crisis. They have a $5 billion shortfall in 2010. So without a Global Fund for AIDS and malaria, I’m afraid this goal will be elusive,” he said.

Doctor Zeitz said President Obama has failed to make good on promise he made during the U.S. presidential election campaign to expand funding for AIDS, TB and malaria.

“He has broken every one of those promises. Yet he came to Africa and spoke in Ghana and said to Africa hold your leaders accountable for the commitments they made. And Africans really need to hold him accountable,” Zeitz said.

He said a number of developed countries are promoting a new idea to help fund health programs in developing countries.

“There are innovations like the currency transaction levy, a tax on financial transaction that is being developed as a viable what is called an innovative financing approach. This is being supported by the French government right now. The UK government is considering it, and Norway is considering it,” he said.

Doctor Zeitz said the new financing approach would levy a small tax on worldwide bank transfers. He said this could generate billions of dollars to achieve health equity in developing countries.


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