Representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) on Friday stormed Parliament in Lilongwe to deliver petitions requesting for the august House to embrace the Table Mountain Declaration and increase to 15 percent the budgetary allocation to the health sector as stipulated in the Abuja Declaration of 2001.
The CSOs, led by the Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) and the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), accompanied by about 100 banner-bearing protesters, descended on Parliament and delivered the two petitions to chairpersons of parliamentary committees responsible for health and media, Paul Chibingu and Godfrey Munkhondia, respectively.
“It is pathetic that though it is recommended that nations should strive to allocate at least 15 percent of their national budget to health we are still dragging, we are still at 10 percent. We still have a lot of challenges such as the recent drug shortage,” said Timothy Mtambo, CHRR’s programmes manager.
The declaration, made in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2007, calls for the repeal of criminal defamation and ‘insult’ laws across the African continent. It was adopted at the World Newspaper Congress.
President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger became the first sitting Head of State to sign the declaration in November 2011. Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed the declaration on July 21 2012.
President Joyce Banda refused to sign the declaration before the World Press Freedom Day.