African nations stall $100 million public health fund

(InformAfrica) — African countries at the 61st session of the World Health Organisation (WHO)Regional Committee for Africa last week stalled approval of a document for $100 million African Public Health Emergency Fund aimed at helping African countries deal with public health emergencies when the need arises.

After WHO Regional Director, Mr Luis Sambo called for the adoption of the document and possible discussion on how the fund will be collected, some member countries requested that they be given more time to consult with their head of states and ministers of finance since it deals with funds, while other wanted it adopted immediately.

The emergency fund was proposed by the Regional Director, Mr Luis Sambo and approved by the ministers at their sixtieth session in Malabo , Equatorial Guniea in 2010.

Head of the Nigerian delegation, Mr Linus Awute who presented Nigeria’ s position on the fund said that though it was a welcome development , the operational modalities as proposed by the technical committee must be looked into.

His words, “Contributions of member states to this fund should take account of other existing contributions of the member states to the work of WHO, while also the level of contribution should determine the level of support in case of emergencies.”

The Tanzanian Health minister, Dr Lucy Nkya who opposed the adoption of the document said she had no authority to assent to the document without the permission of her prime minister and asked that she be given time to consult and get back to the secretariat with their reply.

The request was opposed by other ministers especially the minister of Health of South Africa, Mr Aaron Motsoaledi who felt that the adoption of the document had lingered for three years in the preview of the WHO without any process being made to adopt it.

He said: “Countries should be self sufficient and support the proposal, because it is important, if the crisis that happened in Japan had happened in any African country, that country would have been extinct, but Japan handled it well because they were self sufficient, so we need this fund in Africa to help ourselves”.

Vanguard

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