AUGUST 4, 2010: Give 15 Percent Budget to Health - UN Chief

Give 15 Percent Budget to Health - UN Chief

SOURCE: New Vision

By Francis Kagolo

Kampala — The United Nations under-secretary general, Dr. Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, has reminded African leaders to recommit to the 2001 Abuja declaration of contributing 15% of national budgets to the health sector.

She emphasised improving reproductive health and called upon governments to focus on training more doctors, nurses and midwives to close the gap of 2.4 million health workers needed in Africa.

"If we are to make motherhood safe for all women and create an HIV-free generation, the pace of progress must be more than doubled over the next five years in a context of scarcer resources," Thoraya, who is also the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, said.

She made the remarks during a public lecture on reproductive health and rights perspectives for further development in Africa at Makerere University on Tuesday. In 2001, African leaders adopted the Abuja Declaration, which was also a way of realising the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

However, Uganda is to spend 9.6% of its budget on the health sector this financial year. Statistics show that Uganda loses 16 women everyday on average during childbirth. The figures are higher in some other sub-Sahara African countries like Niger.

Thoraya emphasised the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women so they are able to make critical decisions. She also advocated for a strong legal protection for the women to exercise their reproductive rights.

Thoraya called for more sexual and reproductive health education for girls. Dr. Augustus Nuwagaba, a senior political economist at Makerere University, blamed maternal, child and infant mortality in Africa on poor governance and failure to implement policies.

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