African countries should devote 15 percent of their budgets to health, a sector where progress has been hampered by poverty, a conference here decided Wednesday.
The conference on health in Africa attended by 600 delegates opened Monday, sponsored by the African office of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In their final declaration Wednesday, the delegates called on African states to respect a promise made earlier to allocate 15 percent of their budgets to the health sector.
Necessary mechanisms should be set up to make essential medicines, products, technology and infrastructure more readily available and accessible, the conference said.
The delegates hailed progress made on the continent over the past 30 years, noting "encouraging" results in the fight against measles, polio and leprosy.
During the conference WHO regional director for Africa Luis Sambo noted a 91 percent reduction in mortality from measles between 2000 and 2006 as well as an increase in the number of HIV/AIDS patients receiving anti-retrovirals, from one percent in 2003 to 37 percent at the end of 2007.
The director of the UNICEF children's fund for West and Central Africa, Esther Guluma, warned of the repercussions from the current food prices boom on the health of African children.
"At least 28 percent of children in Africa are affected by malnutrition," she told AFP. "With the rise in prices of food products, there will really be a very severe impact on children's nutrition."
The conference was held with participation of the government of Burkina Faso, UNICEF, the UN population fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.