21 October 2009
General Assembly
GA/10874

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

Plenary

24th Meeting (AM)


Speakers Call for Scaled-Up Resources to Help Meet 2010 Goal on Malaria Control,


as General Assembly Concludes Debate on Africa’s Development Needs


Assembly President Urges International Community to Follow-up Pledges

Of Support to Help Africa Attain Tangible results for its Citizens’ Benefit


With the clock ticking on the World Health Organization-backed deadline for comprehensive malaria control, particularly in Africa, by 2010, African diplomats in the General Assembly today appealed to the United Nations and their development partners to improve coordination of resources and fulfil long-awaited pledges of assistance that would help the continent eradicate the scourge once and for all.


As the Assembly concluded its two-day, annual joint debate on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the 2001-2010 Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa, many speakers emphasized the “unacceptable burden” that malaria placed on health and economic development.


The United Republic of Tanzania’s delegate said malaria was the number-one cause of morbidity and mortality in her country, with an estimated 14 to 18 million cases and 80,000 deaths each year.  Children and pregnant women were most vulnerable. To change that scenario, her Government had launched a comprehensive program to deal with the question of healthcare access by, among other things, ensuring a dispensary in every village.  It also had changed malaria treatment guidelines and called for extensive follow-up in selected health facilities to ensure that facilities had medicines.


Amid such efforts, Zanzibar had seen a decline in the number of malaria deaths, she said, thanks to residual spraying on malaria breeding sites, provision of long-term insecticide-treated nets at every bed site, early treatment for the infected, and surveillance to prevent the re-emergence of an epidemic. To consolidate such fragile gains, however, support from the international community was needed.


To that point, South Africa’s representative welcomed the work of the Malaria Alliance –- launched by African leaders on the sidelines of the Assembly’s general debate in September, with the aim of eliminating all malaria deaths on the continent by 2015.  That effort complemented others undertaken by Member States, which had increased Government health expenditures worldwide to target the disease, he added.


South Africa supported the work of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and welcomed the call, made at the African Summit on Roll Back Malaria, that development partners should cancel in full the debt of poor and heavily indebted countries (HIPC) in Africa, to release resources for poverty alleviation programmes.  “Failure is not an option…” he said.


While lauding the achievements of the Fund and other institutions, the delegate of the Republic of Korea pointed out that the financing of health development assistance was still insufficient.  To help fill that gap, his Government had introduced a unique air-ticket solidarity levy, which was primarily earmarked for combating disease and achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Africa. Such innovative development resources –- that went beyond traditional ODA -– could have a significant impact on meeting the Goals.


Some speakers linked the challenge of meeting malaria targets with the disproportionate impact of the global financial crisis on African countries, many of which were now left with smaller health budgets and a diminished ability to export their way out of economic turmoil. Real challenges existed in the fight against malaria, Benin’s representative said, including the area of infrastructure.


For Cameroon’s delegate, one of NEPAD’s most important actions had been in the Central African transport sector, where a network of 55 projects supported the development of ports, airports, railways and both lake and river transport. To consolidate such gains, he said Africa must step up efforts to mobilize resources and speed negotiations of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations. Contributions by United Nations bodies also must be subject to more strategic planning. In those efforts, the Office of the Special Adviser for Africa had a lead role in marshalling opinion and resources at global, regional and subregional levels.


Wrapping up the meeting, President of the General Assembly Ali Abdussalam Treki, of Libya, said the past two days of debate had demonstrated the goodwill, solidarity and support for Africa.  The occasion provided a timely opportunity to review progress toward implementing NEPAD and pinpoint ways to address its challenges.  The continent faced numerous obstacles -- including in addressing the food, fuel and economic crises -- and he expressed hope that the international community would follow-up on its pledges of support to help Africa attain more tangible results for its citizens’ benefit.


Also speaking today were the representatives of Iran, Pakistan and Myanmar.


The observers of the Holy See and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) also addressed the Assembly.


The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 26 October, to elect 18 members of the Economic and Social Council.


Background


The General Assembly met today to continue its joint debate on development in Africa, including the progress of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the 2001-2010 Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, particularly Africa.  (For more information, please see press release GA/10873).


Statements


JOYCE C.N. KAFANABO (United Republic of Tanzania), opened by highlighting the “unacceptable burden” that malaria placed on health and economic development in her country, citing it as the number one cause of morbidity and mortality, with an estimated 14 to 18 million cases and 80,000 deaths per year. Children and pregnant women were most vulnerable.  However, she noted a decline in deaths in Zanzibar due to residual spraying on malaria breeding sites, the provision of long-term insecticide treated nets at every bed site, early treatment for those infected and control and surveillance to prevent the re-emergence of an epidemic. However, success would be fragile, she said, if malaria was not contained in the mainland.


United Republic of Tanzania addressed the problem of malaria through implementation of a 2002-2007 Medium Term Strategic Plan, which had been reviewed, and the development of a new plan for 2008-2013.  The plan advocated for a scaling of interventions to achieve Roll Back Malaria Decade targets of universal coverage of 80 per cent by 2010 and the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  In addition, the Government had changed malaria treatment guidelines, called for extensive follow-up in selected health facilities and management of stocks and patients to ensure that facilities had medicines.  The use of insecticide-treated nets could reduce malaria-related mortality by almost 27 percent and halve the number of malaria-related illnesses.  A voucher scheme provided access and ownership of nets for women, and it was scaling up to cover all children under five.  Residual spraying was also effective in combating malaria, particularly in the endemic areas.


Success in fighting malaria was attributed to leadership and resources. Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete was committed to fighting malaria.  In terms of funding, it increased over the years, but there was still a big resource gap.  The focus had been on prevention, because it was cheaper and easier.  While prompt effective treatment was key, the Government had been unable to guarantee access, especially in rural areas.  She stressed that making real inroads against malaria required effective treatment infrastructure, including adequately stocked and staffed health facilities.  With that in mind, the Government had embarked on a comprehensive program to deal with the question of access to healthcare by, among others, ensuring a dispensary in every village.  However, partnerships, support from the international community and support were needed.


BASO SANGQU (South Africa said the key challenge for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was a lack of funding and vital resources for its effective implementation.  That funding gap had been compounded by the impact of the global economic crisis.  As a result, given the current rate of development, African countries were struggling to meet the Millennium Development Goals.


While commending the United Nations work in Africa, he believed that the Office of the Special Advisor on Africa had to be strengthened to continue its critical role in prodding the Organization to mainstream NEPAD’s objectives, and achievement of the Millennium Goals, into its programmes and funding.  The United Nations should also promote NEPAD among all stakeholders, including donors, civil society and the private sector.  Such an advocacy role was particularly important as the financial crisis prompted many of those stakeholders to turn inward.


Regarding peace and stability, he said the African Union was implementing its peace and security architecture, which should be supported by the United Nations and international community.  Yet the continent was still vulnerable to the impact of unconstitutional changes in Government, a lack of transparent electoral systems, climate change, rapid urban growth and drug trafficking, all of which could lead to open conflict.  South Africa welcomed deepening ties between the United Nations and the African Union and reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for the international community to insist on mechanisms to prevent conflict.


He welcomed the work of the Malaria Alliance as it complemented efforts undertaken by Member States, which had increased Government health expenditures.  South Africa supported private initiatives to address global health challenges, including the work of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. South Africa welcomed the call, made at the African Summit on Roll Back Malaria, that development partners should cancel in full the debt of poor and heavily indebted countries (HIPC) in Africa, to release resources for poverty alleviation programmes.  “Failure is not an option…history will not judge us by the lofty ideals we have for Africa, but by what we do today in ensuring a better safe, prosperous and peaceful Africa,” he said.


ESHAGH ALHABIB ( Iran) said the causes of problems in Africa could not be overcome simply by increasing aid or official development assistance.  A truly sustainable solution for economic growth, peace and stability involved effectively addressing the lack of a conducive international environment, and lingering systemic shortcomings.  Special attention must focus on the provision of adequate finance and trade opportunities for Africa, and Iran regarded the Assembly’s 2010 Summit on the Millennium Development Goals as an opportune time to take stock of existing gaps and identify measures needed to achieve the Goals.  That Summit should focus on regions that were not on track to meet the Goals.  Unconditional and urgent delivery on past commitments was crucial.


In the spirit of South-South cooperation, Iran had placed Africa at the top of its international development cooperation programmes and had allocated $50 million in grants to the continent for 2005-2008, he continued.  In the last year alone, some 14 countries received the assistance.  Moreover, $9 million had been provided to three African countries, within the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) framework, to eradicate malaria.  Iran supported Africa’s enduring efforts to achieve its aspirations and economic development, but was also concerned at the impacts of the global financial and economic crisis.  The international community’s response should complement national policies of African countries.  In addressing the crisis, attention should be paid at once to global systemic and structural problems, and the special needs of Africa in the areas of trade, funding, infrastructure and peace and security.


SHIN BOO-NAM (Republic of Korea) said Africa had been disproportionately impacted by the current crises, and as such, official development assistance (ODA) must grow, even if donor countries had been discouraged from maintaining their aid levels.  Development cooperation with Africa should be firmly based on country-specific needs and requests.  To enhance its understanding of those needs, his country had been running several high-level dialogue channels, including the Ministerial Conference on Economic Cooperation between the Republic of Korea and Africa, held last year, and the Korea-Africa Forum, begun in 2006.  His Government complemented those efforts with ground level support like the Millennium Village Project, which operated in 80 villages in sub-Saharan Africa.


Taking up trade policy, he said that while there was no “one-size-fits-all” solution for improving Africa’s trade in a short time, Aid-for-Trade and adequate national strategies would eventually enhance African countries’ competitiveness. Successful conclusion of the Doha round of trade talks would also foster development.


Turning to health issues, he said that while the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, along with other institutions, had done a great deal, the financing of health development assistance was still insufficient. For its part, the Republic of Korea had introduced an air-ticket solidarity levy, which was primarily earmarked for combating disease and achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Africa. Such innovative development resources ‑‑ that went beyond traditional ODA ‑‑ could have a significant impact on meeting the Goals.


Congratulating the NEPAD on its progress over the last year, he said his Government looked forward to seeing more achievements in the areas of infrastructure, basic health and education.  His country had overcome obstacles by investing heavily in those fields and fully supported measures that would allow Africa to also implement them.


ASAD M. KHAN ( Pakistan) said that despite the global financial and economic crisis and its negative impact, some progress was achieved in the implementation of the NEPAD.  However, the main challenge for African countries was to ensure that the financial crisis, combined with the food and energy crisis did not reverse the progress made in Africa and reduce the risk of increasing poverty and hardship for the most vulnerable groups.


He strongly believed that the way forward for meeting Africa’s development needs required more intense, coordinated, balanced and integrated actions to effectively implement the development commitments made by the international community to comprehensively address all challenges to Africa’s development.  An urgent and well-coordinated global action plan would mitigate the socio-economic impact of the crisis and help African countries recover ground in their progress towards the implementation of NEPAD and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.


Bolstering investments, expanding trade, building capacity and human resources were the most important goals that would put Africa on a fast development track.  Those were the three main pillars for a strategic partnership between Africa and the rest of the world.  He said that Pakistan, in its turn, actively supported efforts towards a durable peace, which could only be addressed by strengthening long-term capacities for peaceful settlement of disputes, peacemaking, and a coherent system-wide response to post-conflict peace-building. He acknowledged United Nations peacekeeping as an indispensable tool for restoring peace and stability. Pakistan contributed 10,000 troops to those efforts. In addition, the Africa Plan for Trade Development reached nearly $1.8 billion per year. Pakistan also ran the Special Technical Assistance Program since 1986, which trained hundreds of young African professionals.


Concluding, he said that the challenges Africa faced were colossal. But the opportunities, means and resources with which to tackle those challenges were immense. NEPAD was a realistic framework for action, and the African Union was emerging as a dynamic factor promoting African ownership in tackling Africa’s problems. Sub-regional organizations played an important role. “We are confident that with commensurate political will on part of the international community in particular the developed world, to faithfully implement the commitments made, Africa can hope to realize its full political and economic potential,” he said.


JEAN-FRANCIS R. ZINSOU ( Benin) said that in 2001 NEPAD was created to give the continent a coherent development framework and work with the international community in achieving its goals.  With NEPAD, Africa had created priorities and brought coherent guidance to its plan for development.


Agriculture and infrastructure development were two sectors that needed substantial investment and help from international partners.  There had been many initiatives to create a favourable investment environment on the continent and that process needed to be continued.  As stated by Benin’s Foreign Minister during the Assembly’s general debate, an investment fund for continent-wide infrastructure projects in Africa should be created.  That could be fuelled by a funding mechanism for climate change set up at the Bali Conference on climate change, he said.


On the issue of peace and stability, he said it was necessary to address the many challenges and Benin supported the Secretary-General’s appeal to Africa’s international partners to help set up effective mediation mechanisms to tackle those conflicts.  There needed to be more effective methods to tackle the underlying causes of conflict on the continent, which undermined peace.  Social and economic reforms had to be made and it was crucial to deal with marginalized communities.  The provision of water to rural areas, adequate energy supplies, and access to basic health care and schools was vital so all citizens would have a decent standard of living.  All of those efforts were needed to achieve the Goals. The developed world had to fund actions in the areas of health and social services.


The Benin Government’s policy included the strengthening of human resources, the provision of agricultural inputs, land use reform, and the protection of the poor.  It was necessary to promote the country’s rural development.  Preserving a smooth agricultural production process was crucial for the continent’s social and economic progress.  It was very important to have investment in the agricultural field and he thanked Benin’s partners, particularly India.


Regarding malaria, he said the Secretary-General’s report on that subject showed that while there had been progress, real challenges existed in the fight against malaria, including in the areas of diagnosis and infrastructure.  The international community should be doing its best to save the millions of people every year who contracted malaria.  The disease could be erased with the available tools.  Attention had to be paid to insects’ growing resistance to drugs and insecticides.  He congratulated those countries that had reached the goals of 2010 and called for more coherent action and support from the international community. There should be a division of labour among United Nations agencies, as well as the creation of a regional coordination mechanism.


U THAN SWE ( Myanmar) said that despite the financial crisis, some progress was made regarding the New Partnership.  While that was reassuring, much more was needed to prevent the risk of increasing poverty and misery for the most vulnerable groups, and concerted action was needed to ensure the successful implementation of NEPAD and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in Africa.


Taking stock of progress on NEPAD, he said that there was a need for more intense and coordinated action to implement the commitments made.  The international community must live up to its pledges on assistance to Africa, particularly as the financial crisis underscored the need to ensure that there was no backsliding on the implementation of key socio-economic development programmes. It was also essential to help African countries build their capacity.  Africa had made tremendous efforts to take responsibility by improving governance, and the international community should complement those efforts by offering African countries favourable conditions on debt relief, market access, and technology transfer to help overcome development obstacles.


He went on to say that emergency and debt relief needed to be increased to finance short term plans to mitigate the adverse effects of the global crisis, particularly as the global and financial downturn created additional burdens for countries.  Moreover, new resources needed to be mobilized, and in that context, he said a positive sign was a World Bank proposal to design stabilization and development funds for Africa.  In addition, sustained and more intensive efforts were needed to achieve long-term debt sustainability.


Calling the challenges faced by Africa formidable, he said that there were opportunities, means and resources to address those challenges.  NEPAD presented a realistic framework for action.  The African Union emerged as a main force in promoting African ownership for solving Africa’s problems.  At the same time, subregional organizations played an important role, and the international community must bolster its commitments so that Africa could realize its full economic and political potential.


TOMMO MONTHE ( Cameroon) said that by adopting the NEPAD programme, African countries embraced a vision of realistic development drawn up by Africans themselves.  Among NEPAD’s strategic priorities were infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, the environment, information and communications, science and gender equality, to name a few.  In Central Africa, NEPAD had laid a basis for developing priority infrastructure as a way to speed economic integration.  One of its most important actions was in the transport sector, where a network of 55 projects supported the development of ports, airports, railways and both lake and river transport.  A committee had been set up to monitor implementation of all such programmes.


For its part, Cameroon monitored NEPAD and its African Peer Review Mechanism, he said, adding that, as a member of the NEPAD Steering Committee, the Government had set up a department within the Foreign Ministry for that purpose. At the same time, there was “sluggishness” in the pace of efforts.  While $25 billion in additional aid was expected by 2010, only $12.5 billion had been disbursed.  Indeed, the gap between the promise and the reality was growing wider. Also, 7 per cent annual growth was required for viable development and most African countries fell below that level.


For its part, Africa must step up efforts to mobilize resources and speed negotiations of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, he said, adding that contributions by United Nations bodies also must be subject to more strategic planning. In such efforts, the Office of the Special Adviser for Africa had a lead role in marshalling international opinion and resources at global, regional and sub-regional levels.


As for peace and security issues, the quest for solutions must be coordinated around preventive diplomacy, he explained. Cameroon was involved in peacekeeping operations in various countries, including Cambodia, Namibia, Chad, Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau.  The country also welcomed refugees and persons displaced by conflict.  In closing, he observed that African development was at a crossroads.  Africa had serious choices to make and development partners were called on to fulfil their repeated promises.


ARCHBISHOP CELESTINO MIGLIORE Observer of the Holy See, offered some comments on the overall situation in Africa, and said that certain prejudices needed to be eliminated once and for all.  Indeed, when speaking about Africa, most people mentioned extreme poverty, coups, corruption and conflicts.  In instances where they spoke of Africa positively, it was always about the future, as if it had nothing to offer in the present.  “The reality is that Africa, even in its most difficult years, has been able to provide the international community examples and values worthy of admiration and today, African can offer signs of fulfilment of many of its hopes.”


For example, he said that in post-conflict transitions from independence or reconstruction or in the presence of valiant officials in the United Nations and agencies, staff displayed great capability and talent in managing the multilateral sector.  Some African countries had succeeded in realizing the dream of diversified agriculture, which was considered impossible.  That proved that small family-farming could actually be multi-functional and ensure food security, and generate export balance.  He also mentioned the progress many African countries made in the field of elementary education and in improving the situation of women.


It remained true that most of the people who lived in extreme poverty were in Africa and that the eradication of poverty and hunger, halving the proportion of people whose income was less than one dollar a day by 2015, was beyond the reach of most African countries. He noted that Africa bore the brunt of oil, food, financial and climate change crises, despite the fact it had not contributed to their causes.  Thus, Africa needed a factual solidarity not only to cope with the negative impacts of those crises and to help eradicate the unacceptable scourge of poverty and made available to other countries Africa’s true potential.  Developed countries should not reduce their development aid to Africa but should move in a farsighted vision of the economy and world to increase their investment for those in poor countries, he added.


MARWAN JILANI, Observer of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), noting that his organization chaired the Alliance for Malaria Prevention, said malaria programmes being implemented focused on scaling  up net ownership and ensuring net distribution was accompanied by long-term community education.  Combining distribution with follow-on support and training was especially crucial in reaching the most vulnerable, including refugees and stigmatized populations.  Describing other efforts, he said IFRC and American Red Cross staff worked with the Mozambique Red Cross Society last August to conduct a survey of mosquito net use following mass distribution campaign.


Preliminary findings reaffirmed that mass distribution raised net ownership from very low levels to more than 70 per cent in a very short time, he continued. Further, 48 per cent of households visited in the “intervention” group had their nets hanging, versus only 31 per cent in the control group.  Nets also tended to be in better condition in the “intervention” group.  The key message was that communities must own the activities that support malaria prevention at the individual and household level. To increase ownership, families must have the support to understand malaria transmission and how it could be prevented through the use of nets.


Statement by General Assembly President


Wrapping up the meeting, ALI ABDUSSALAM TREKI, President of the General Assembly, of Libya, said the past two days of debate had demonstrated the goodwill, solidarity and support for Africa and were a timely opportunity to review the progress toward implementing NEPAD and pinpointing ways to address its challenges.  As they acknowledged the continent’s primary responsibility for its own development, Member States had renewed calls for strengthened international partnerships to accelerate the process.


At the same time, African delegations had outlined their efforts to advance NEPAD’s priorities and tackle peace and security challenges, emphasizing the role of the African Union, regional organizations and the United Nations. He said that the continent faced numerous challenges, including the impact of the food, fuel and economic crises, climate change, HIV/AIDS and other diseases, transnational organized crime, narcotic drug trafficking and improving the status of women. Many delegates were concerned about the continuing toll of malaria.


While acknowledging that Africa’s own reform efforts had to be sustained, the international community had provided investment, trade, debt relief and official development assistance (ODA), he said.  Africa’s development partners were asked to meet their ODA pledges, particularly the 2005 Gleneagles commitment by the G-8, to double aid to Africa by 2010 and the long-standing commitment to increase that assistance to 0.7 per cent of gross national income. Several delegates requested the implementation of the Political Declaration on Africa’s Development Needs, adopted at the Assembly 2008 high-level event, whereby the international community had recommitted itself to strengthen a global partnership of equals.  He hoped that the international community would stand with Africa and follow-up on its pledges of support to help the continent attain more tangible results for its citizens’ benefit.


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For information media • not an official record