By Anne Mugisa
The US Government has told Uganda and other African countries to put more money in their health sectors in order to save mothers and arrest the HIV/AIDS scourge.
It said that the donors cannot fully take on all the challenges of partner countries. It called for country ownership of the health programmes with the nation's efforts led, implemented and paid for by its government, communities, civil society and the private sector.
In a teleconference with journalists from several African countries, on Monday, US officials quoted the US Secretary of State , Hillary Rodham Clinton as emphasising the global public private partnership to strengthen health systems and save mothers as well as deal with HIV/AIDS. She said there is serious need for country ownership of interventions for health.
The journalists' teleconference was addressed by Lois Quam, the Executive Director, Global Health Initiative (GHI) and Ambassador Eric Goosby, US Global AIDS Coordinator. They provided the journalists with the presentation made by Clinton earlier in the day at the Global Health Conference in Oslo, Norway. The conference was themed: A world in Transition- Charting a New Path in Global Health.
According to Clinton, the development partners will offer help but that the countries political leaders "should set priorities and develop national plans to accomplish health goals in concert with its citizens." "These plans must be effectively carried out by the country's own institutions which should be held accountable," she said.
Currently in Uganda one out of every 35 mothers die due to child related complications. The maternal mortality rate stands at 430 per 100,000 mothers. Infant mortality stands at 130 out of 1,000 live births and the chances of children dying at infancy are high when their mothers are dead, according to medics.
As far as HIV, AIDS is concerned, there are 750,000 who need ARVs but only about half of them are of them are on the life saving drugs.
According to Clinton, economic growth is making it possible for many developing countries to meet more of their people's needs. She said that countries have discovered resources including oil, gas and other extractive industries.
These and other resources of these countries, she said, should be captured for the wellbeing of its people and should be channeled into health. And that in case of its supplementary funding to the partner countries, the US will not tolerate the use of health money it provides, for other purposes.
She said that partner countries should also bring down political barriers to improving health. "That means making regulatory changes that allow faster approval of new drugs, procurement reforms to ensure drugs get to clinics on time as well as setting and delivering a living wage for health workers.
Clinton also asked the donors to do a more effective job of coordinating their resources they give to partner countries.
"All countries should do more in investing in global health and all countries should do more to ensure and put more resources into health systems to save mothers…," she said.
On the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR 2) which is ending next year, the US officials said that his government's intervention will not end, but that they are "in the process of looking at what that re-authorisation will look like".
The five-year PEPFAR 2 was designed for capacity which includes governance, health information systems, financing service delivery, medicines and technology and human resources development though it does not include additional recruitments.
However, the US said that partner countries should also tackle the issue of corruption. She said that in some countries leaderships there want to get the money meant for HIV/AIDS even before the targeted beneficiaries can get it. Other issues to tackles she said are gender violence and mistreatment of women.