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Uhuru tells leaders to avoid 'outside help'

23 September 2014, 17:38 PSCU

Nairobi -President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted a high-level meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York, where he urged African countries to adopt domestic financing for their health services instead of waiting for "outside" help.

The President said Africa was rising economically but the fruits of this transformation would only be sweet if proper investments were channeled towards health.

He said the health sector is as important as any other sector, such as infrastructure, and Africa should get its own solutions to keep its people healthy.

“We have always depended on external help for health services, but we have to mobilise domestic resources to find our own solution instead of moving from one crisis to another,” he said.

The meeting, whose theme was "Domestic Financing for Health: Invest to Save", was sponsored by Kenya and the Global Fund to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria.

Read also: East African countries to launch common travel visa

President Kenyatta said governments must take the lead in providing health services and they should come up with strong systems of public health.

He said the Kenyan Government plans to raise health funding to 15 per cent of the total budget from its current level.

President Kenyatta also called on African governments to improve transparency to attract support and investment in health services.

The President was the key speaker and also a panellist at the event. The other panellists included Dr Lawrence H. Summers (professor and president emeritus at Harvard University), Dr Agnes Binagwaho (Rwanda’s health minister), Dr Mark Byul (head of the Global Fund) and Tumusiime Peace (African Union Commission).

The Cabinet Secretary for Health, James Macharia, also attended the meeting.

Prof Summers said domestic financing for health services was the way to go for Africa and the whole world.

He said in the next two decades, all countries are set to achieve a similar low rate of child mortality if the sustained investment in health services is maintained.

Read also: NEMA issues stern warning against pollution in L. Victoria

President Kenyatta and Prof Summers both said even though Africa’s rising economic fortunes mean that it has more resources to spend on health, development partners should continue working with governments.

“The rise in Africa’s economic fortunes should never be an excuse for development partners to stop their support for health services,” said Prof Summers.

He said strong global organizations like the World Health Organisation are necessary to formulate strong global health policies.

The meeting was also attended by the prime minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegyn, who also called on African governments to take the lead initiative in providing health services.

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