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Healthcare :: G8 Leaders Promise $60 Billion, Only One-Third of Global Resource Need

The G8 leaders promised an increase in investment in programs to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, but the $60 billion total will still be only one-third of what the UN says is needed over the next five years. Together, these diseases kill about 16,000 people each day.

“We will have to watch the G8 carefully to see they keep their promises,” said Dr. Paul Zeitz, Executive Director of the Global AIDS Alliance. “But even if they do keep them, the funding falls far short of what is needed. In addition, their promise to provide this money ‘over the coming years’ is outrageously vague.”

“A plan to really defeat AIDS, TB and malaria is still missing, yet that’s what we must keep demanding of these leaders,” he said. “This is not an issue of ‘more money is always needed when it comes to poverty.’ Rather, the full amount is needed so that we can actually get ahead of these health crises, which pose a global threat.”

Half of the total is a US contribution of $30 billion on AIDS and tuberculosis, but the US was already on course to provide this even before President Bush’s announcement last week. The Bush proposal was greeted with great fanfare in the press, but this obscured the fact that it would keep spending at about current levels for the next five years, despite the rapid spread of health crises like drug- resistant TB.

The G8’s promise of $60 billion is for “over the coming years.” But, UN estimates show that $192 billion is needed to address AIDS, tuberulosis, and malaria from 2008 to 2012, and even more would be needed to improve health systems. Of this $192 billion, $134 billion is needed for AIDS, $37 billion to fight TB (including extremely drug-resistant TB), and $21 billion to address malaria, a major killer of children and expectant mothers.

“To give the world a chance to reach basic goals, the G8 should speed up the delivery of this $60 billion by 2010, not spread it out over five years,” said Zeitz.

The declaration reaffirms grantmaking by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria at a level of $6 billion to 8 billion per year; however, the G8 leaders themselves made no specific financial commitments regarding contributions to the Fund. The Global Fund is a cost-effective, demand-driven financing mechanism based in Geneva, which addresses AIDS, TB, and malaria. Each year for the past five years, President Bush has proposed a large cut in the US contribution to the Global Fund, and the US Congress is currently on course to provide only two-thirds of what the Fund needs from the US in 2008.

There was a risk that the G8 leaders would fail to recommit themselves to the goal of universal access to HIV/AIDS services for 2010, including AIDS treatment, but in the end they reaffirmed that goal. Right now only about 2 million people are receiving this treatment, while 6 million need it to survive. By 2010, 11 million people will need it (7 million in Africa), and the world is not currently on course to ensure universal access to AIDS treatment. (Universal treatment access is defined by the United Nations as 80% coverage.) “It is good news that global epidemics remain as high a political priority at the G8 as they have in years past,” said Zeitz. “Peaceful protests, massive petitions, and concerts again made a difference by putting a spotlight on the imperative for the G8 to keep its promises. Without that mobilization, we would not have made the gains we did.”

The G8’s statement also included important and welcome statements on the need for pediatric HIV/AIDS treatment and greater action to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. They recognized the important role of access to basic education in bolstering HIV prevention. The G8 also acknowledged the need for sexual and reproductive health services, as well as effective programs to end violence against women, as essential components of the response to AIDS.


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