Health Management

World Summit: developed world asked to honour promises

Debt cancellation, poverty relief and health improvement are key elements that should form part of the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Johannesburg in August. This was the call by health ministers from the Southern African Development Community who ended a two-day meeting on Tuesday with representatives from China, India, Indonesia and the USA.

At the conclusion of a two-day meeting in preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Johannesburg in August, a high level delegation of international health representatives called on the global community to take steps to ensure that health is placed at the centre of the world agenda for development.

Health ministers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and representatives from China, India, Indonesia and the US called for the international community to agree on a concrete programme of action that would realise the principles of the Rio Earth Summit, held 10 years ago.

The programme of action included the expeditious cancellation of debt burden on developing countries so that the funds could be used for poverty alleviation and health improvement. Another element was a review of current international trade agreements to give legal standing to the concept of global public goods and the removal of trade practices that were harmful to health, particularly those that prevented access to necessary pharmaceuticals and technologies.

The need to alter patterns of globalisation was highlighted in order to overcome the depletion of natural resources, to reduce industrial toxic waste and to “counteract the effects of moral degeneration”, thereby reaping benefits for health.

The declaration issues by the group said that while there had been improvements in life expectancy and declines in infant mortality, the world was not on track for achieving the targets it had set for itself 10 years ago at the Rio Summit. This was not because the goals were not achievable, but because the scale of the effort fell far short of what was required.  

In light of this the group called on the international community to fullfil their commitment to allocating 0,7% of GDP to development aid and for the 20:20 principle to be applied, whereby 20% of development aid and 20% of the country’s own budgets are allocated to social services.

And while sub-Saharan Africa carried the greatest burden of disease and underdevelopment, it needed priority support, said the group, calling on all countries to support the New Partnership for African Development.

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