Budget Conference in South Africa
Honourable Members of Parliament, distinguished guests,
am delighted to be here and honoured to speak to you as the European
Parliament Rapporteur on "Combating communicable diseases HIV/AIDS,
TB & Malaria" - a report that was adopted unanimously by the
Parliament on 4th October, 2001.
TB & Malaria kill almost 5 million every year worldwide and 3m of
these are in Africa! South Africa has a high incidence of HIV/AIDS and
this Conference confirms the commitment of the African Parliamentarians
and their Governments as they try desperately to deal with the scourge of
diseases that threaten and destroy communities and national economies.
is not simply a social issue for a few countries, it is not merely another
one of the developing world's diseases, it is a calamity affecting every
corner of the globe, disabling the workforce, undermining economic
development, increasing social exclusion and exacerbating world poverty.
It has spread rapidly and dramatically, currently affecting around 35
million people worldwide.
have come here to express not only my concern but the concern of the 15
Member States of the European Union. The European Parliament, the Belgian
Presidency of Council, the ACP:EU Joint Assembly recognise the serious
problems facing Africa. I have come here to listen to your concerns, to
learn how we in the European Union can best help you both financially and
technically to procure appropriate medication, to help your governments
build health infra-structure including day care centres, help train your
biomedical technicians who can screen, diagnose and monitor patients, and
to encourage technology transfer for local manufacture wherever this is
was born in Tanzania where my family has lived for over 165 years. My
family established a pharmaceutical business and I, as a pharmacist,
played my part in manufacturing a wide range of generic medicines for
supply to local hospitals. I have travelled extensively in rural areas in
Tanzania visiting virtually all missionary and government hospitals. In
1967 I drove all over Zambia and to Niagra Falls.
populations are deprived of hospitals and clinics as doctors and
biotechnicians are hard to recruit. Such hospitals lack resources
and medical equipment for operations and diagnostic tests. I
encourage my colleagues in the European Parliament to venture out into the
rural areas to see for themselves the inadequacies of health
infra-structure so that they can understand the magnitude of the problem
facing African countries. South Africa is, of course, a lot better off
than most other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa but even here you have an
urgent need to treat rural populations who are victims of disease without
any finance or facility to access treatment.
Report on "Combating communicable diseases" underlines the need
for a global strategy to fund a comprehensive action plan to build
appropriate health infra-structure, train biomedical technicians for
diagnosis, encourage development of new vaccines, procure supply of
medication at affordable prices, encourage technology transfer to
manufacture locally wherever possible and to invest in a comprehensive
prevention scheme that is based on education, nutrition and environment.
health infra-structure does not always mean building expensive hospitals
in urban areas. It is essential that investment is made in mobile clinics
that service rural areas to help scan, diagnose, administer treatment and
monitor patients- a clinic that can use modern videoconferencing
facilities to access consultant services at national hospitals or even
consultants abroad. Such clinics can be supported by regional
manufacturing units that can produce and distribute medicine and carry out
quality controls. Such facilities are taken for granted in the West but
simply do not exist in poor countries. Communicable diseases cannot be
eradicated without such infra-structure.
African countries lack not only doctors but biomedical technicians who
perform an essential function in medical tests that assist diagnosis.
There is an urgent need to train such people. South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt
and such countries have the academic institutions to assist in training
and the European Union needs to fund and establish a programme that will
use these facilities.
idea has been supported publicly by the UN, WHO, UNICEF, Governments of
G8, the IMF, World Bank and numerous charitable trusts like the Bill Gates
Foundation. President Bush in USA has already pledged $200 million to the
fund, while the UK Government has said that it will contribute £200
million over 5 years. We need to persuade the oil-rich nations to make a
contribution as well. We shall need this global fund to be big enough to
invest in a comprehensive prevention programme that requires development
of education and social welfare.
I wish to say that the EU is committed to lead the global Programme of
Action to help eradicate these communicable diseases. I, as Rapporteur of
the European Parliament, will make sure that our the EU efforts will have
a significant impact on reducing the poverty that is an inevitable
consequence of the spread of these killer diseases.