DAR ES SALAAM, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Southern African Development Community (SADC) on Thursday urged its 16 member states to implement the United Nations recent declaration on universal health coverage.
Stergomena Lawrence Tax, SADC Executive Director, said implementation of the universal health coverage by member states will minimize the burden of high spending on health care.
Speaking at the start of a two-day joint meeting of SADC ministers of health and HIV/AIDS in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, Tax said, "it is incumbent upon us to make sure that the Declaration is implemented for the benefit of the SADC people."
She said without universal health coverage, there was a risk that the high costs to access health care could potentially drive an increasing number of people in the region into poverty due to exorbitant out-of-pocket health care costs.
Tax said exorbitant health care costs will further hamper the attainment of SADC goals where economic well-being, improved standards of living, and quality of life, among others, should be guaranteed.
Opening the meeting, Tanzanian Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan said the east African nation was making breakthrough toward controlling of major communicable diseases of tuberculosis (TB), malaria and HIV/AIDS.
She said Tanzania was among seven countries in the world that has observed strategies aimed at eliminating TB by 2020.
Hassan said in 2018 new TB infections decreased by 4.6 percent annually, adding that deaths caused by the deadly disease decreased from 55,000 in 2015 to 39,000 in 2018.
She said the number of health centers that deliver medical care for TB patients increased from one in 2015 to 103 by September 2019.
On malaria, Hassan told the meeting that the number of malaria patients decreased from 164 to 119 out of 1,000 people from 2015 to 2018.
Heads of state and government from across the world adopted the global Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage during the recent UN high-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage held on September 23, 2019, on the margins of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.