Saturday, 20 September 2014
UN entrepreneur taps African oil for child health
Republic of Congo has become the first country to agree to divert part of its oil revenues toward childhood nutrition, a victory for "innovative financing" to help the world's poorest, the scheme's creator Philippe Douste-Blazy said in an interview.
The breakthrough may pave the way for similar financing schemes with other oil producers, first in Africa and then further afield, said Douste-Blazy, the U.N. under-secretary general for innovative finance for development.
"It's a first. Now we are going to begin with Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Nigeria and with Cameroon," he said.
Douste-Blazy, who previously served as France's foreign minister and health minister, is the chairman of UNITAID, a body hosted by the World Health Organization that provides long-term funding for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in developing nations.
Most of UNITAID's $300-million funding comes from a levy on air tickets, a scheme already implemented by more than a dozen countries. Douste-Blazy is confident that Japan will join the scheme this year or next and he is also courting India.
"The simple idea is to take a microscopic contribution of solidarity on economic activities that benefit most from globalization: mass tourism by plane, mobile phones, Internet, financial transactions and extractive resources," he said.
Shaving off a small fee from the cost of a flight has enabled UNITAID to boost the fight to stop AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, one of the "Millennium Development Goals" that the U.N. hopes to reach by next year.