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Obasanjo Says Debt Servicing Derails Fight Against Malaria

Original Article - Panafrican News Agency

DATELINE: April 25, 2000

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo Tuesday said that the fight against malaria would not succeed if African countries continue to spend their meagre resources on debt servicing.

He added that African countries had reached a stage where the small amount that would have been allocated to combating malaria and improving health care was now being diverted to service debts

Officially opening of the African Summit on malaria in Abuja, he called for complete forgiveness of all African debts, saying the gravity of the malaria problem with all its ramifications provided a strong case for the forgiveness of all African debts.

"The stranglehold of debt obligations on our developmental priorities is such that no realistic anti-malaria efforts - or indeed any development strategy - is conceivable to be meaningful with these debts hanging around our necks," he told the summit, attended by some 20 African leaders and representatives of international and bilateral development agencies.

Obasanjo also appealed to African development partners and international organisations to make adequate resources available to deal effectively with malaria and HIV/AIDS.

He said African regeneration would remain impaired for as long as the scourge of malaria existed at current levels.

"Malaria has contributed immensely to our impoverishment and will no doubt continue to keep us poor," he added.

Obasanjo, who described the summit on Roll Back Malaria as "a life and death issue for the continent of Africa," expressed the hope that the summit would mark the beginning of the end of malaria in Africa.

He further expressed the hope that the summit would result in an international movement to deal with the scourge of malaria.

Obasanjo urged the summit to include in its plan of action the aim to put in every African home anti-malaria first aid kit fitted with equipment for simple diagnostic tests and affordable drugs for early treatment.

He said early diagnosis and rapid treatment massively reduced death from malaria and limited the spread of the parasite.

He added that the region would gain tremendously when malaria was finally eradicated from Africa.

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