By Henry Neondo
Heads of State of member states of the African Union meeting in a special Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Abuja Nigeria from 2nd to 4th of May 2006, with the theme “Universal Access to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Services by a United Africa by 2010”.
The Summit follows a negative evaluation report on the progress made in combating HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria since the Abuja declarations of 2000/1.
The evaluation report on the prevalence of the three diseases indicate that they remain the three major causes of morbidity and mortality in Africa, and constitute serious challenges to socio-economic development and human security.
This May 2006 Summit promises to be different by going beyond making commitments to evoking bold, urgent and extraordinary action from African Heads of States and Government towards ensuring that the targets set at this summit towards the prevention and control of the three diseases are met by 2010.
The Special Summit will review the status of implementation of the Declarations and Frameworks for Action on the 2000 Abuja Summit on Roll Back Malaria, and the 2001 Abuja Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases (ORID).
The Special Summit will also adopt a renewed commitment for halting and then reversing the impact of these diseases by ensuring universal access to services, and strengthen the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) within the context of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to include control of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in its reviewed priorities.
The Summit will conclude with preparation of the Statement of African Leaders for presentation to the World Health Assembly in May 2006, Africa’s Common Position to the UNGASS on AIDS in June, which will review the implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on AIDS, and the Abuja Call for Accelerated Action on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, which will be presented to the Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly in July 2006 for endorsement.
The Special Summit will comprise the meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC)/Experts on 2nd May, the meeting of Ministers of Health and of Finance and Economic Planning on 3rd May, and the Special Assembly of Heads of State and Government on 4th May.
The ultimate goal is to free Africa from the shackles placed upon her by HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and to alleviate the suffering, death and poverty which result from these epidemics, and so provide the platform for further socio-economic development.
The Summit also offers a great opportunity for key African development partners to commit themselves to respond to African challenges.
Key participants will include national delegations and representatives of Civil Society Organizations, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) Development Partners and the United Nations System, to support Africa in scaling up universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010, and achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.