Members of the EAC legislative assembly (EALA), in collaboration with regional civil society representatives, yesterday, adopted a declaration setting out five strategies to achieve the Millenium Development Goala MDGs.
Members of EALA met in Bujumbura, Burundi, in a regional workshop titled “Responsive HIV/Aids Legislation and MDGs: The Role of Parliamentarians.”
It was agreed that from now on, the East African Legislative Assembly will follow up and evaluate partner states’ progress or lack of it, in achieving the MDGs.
“Parliamentarians should use their oversight, legislation and budgetary appropriation roles to create an enabling policy and legislation framework for achieving MDGs as a long term and sustainable process towards improving livelihoods and access to basic services by the EAC people,” reads part of the adopted communiqué.
The legislators resolved to develop integrated development programmes that prioritize actions which support progressive and sustainable approaches towards achieving the MDGs by inducing labour intensive activities and essential infrastructure such as schools, health centers and roads.
EALA member Dora Byamukama, who chaired the session, proposed that the declaration be sent to member states’ national assemblies for consideration.
EALA MP Septur Nassur, from Zanzibar, said: “Most of what we have been talking about here will only be implemented if we take our oversight job seriously. There is need for each of us to take the responsibility and understand that we should take action.”
Meanwhile, the lawmakers recommended that the assembly’s General Purpose Committee consults the EAC Council of Ministers with a view to getting the way forward on the Bill on HIV/Aids; and ensure its provisions comply with the relevant regional and international legal instruments especially the International Guidelines on HIV & Aids and human rights.
The session noted that the bloc has an estimated 4,450,000 persons living with HIV, 338,800 annual new HIV infections, 286,000 AIDS related deaths and 4,030,000 orphans left due to HIV related deaths as of 2009 figures.
MPs noted “with concern” that EAC states have HIV/Aids legislations that fall short of the model requirements of the rights based approach to HIV/Aids.
In particular, provisions on principles of testing and disclosure and protection of most at-risk and vulnerable groups are lacking, among other things.
Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi have enacted specific HIV/Aids laws. Uganda has a proposed HIV and Aids specific law while Rwanda has proposed a non-HIV and Aids specific legislation, which is largely intended to govern reproductive health in general but has an HIV/Aids element.
Civil society members appealed to EALA to pass the bill.