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G8 Meeting Yields Continued Commitment to Fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa

The Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—concluded their summit in Hokkaido, Japan on July 9 after three days of talks focusing on global development crises, including HIV/AIDS in Africa.  G8 leaders left the summit pledging to deliver $60 billion to the continent over the next five years to aid in the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.[i] The leaders reconfirmed their promise made at the 2005 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland to provide $25 billion in aid to Africa by 2010.[ii]

Advocates around the world were concerned that despite previous pledges, the G8 were not doing enough to fight HIV/AIDS. Prior to the summit, over 200 civil society organizations signed a letter urging G8 leaders to “fulfill the promise of universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010,” by not retreating from commitments made at earlier summits.[iii] At the same time, however, reports issued by civil society organizations in the days and weeks leading up to the Hokkaido summit revealed concerns about the ability of G8 donors to fulfill pledges. A June report conducted by the Africa Progress Panel found that “G8 commitments will fall $40 billion short of their targets under current spending plans.”[iv] According to The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (Kaiser), “advocates have accused some G8 nations—particularly Canada, France, and Italy—of falling short on their contributions [to the $25 billion by 2010 promise];” a failure that is hampering G8 funding efforts.[v]

Kaiser, The Henry L. Stimson Center, and UNAIDS worked together to publish a report immediately before this year’s summit that looked at 2007 AIDS programming funding by donor governments, including the G8 nations. According to the report “the difference between UNAIDS’ estimates of resource needs compared to resources available in 2007 was at least $8 billion, a difference that could grow even larger over the next few years,” if donors, particularly G8 members, fail to step up funding.[vi]

At this year’s summit, which was presided over by Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, G8 leaders addressed this need for increased funding. The G8 agreed to build upon the $60 billion promise made at last year’s summit in Germany by attaching a five-year timetable to the pledge.[vii] A senior U.S. official requesting anonymity who spoke to Michael Abramowitz of The Washington Post following the summit noted that, this year’s summit marked the first time that the G8 leaders had laid out a specific timeframe for delivering the funding to Africa.[viii]

It remains to be seen, however, if the G8 will deliver on their pledge of providing $60 billion in aid to Africa over the next five years. As UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said, it is time for the G8 “to translate their commitment into stepped up funding, and to lead by example through their commitment to save and protect lives.[ix]


 


[i] G8 leaders Agree to $60B To Help Fight Disease in Africa,” Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8 July 2008, accessed 21 July 2008 <http://www.kaisernetwork.org/DAILY_REPORTS/rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=53156>.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] “Campaigners Warn G8 Not to Renege on AIDS Commitments,” Medical News Today, 7 July 2008, accessed 21 July 2008 <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/114068.php>.

[iv] “G8 Summit To Address Aid to Africa; Leaders Urged Not to Backtrack on Pledges to Continent,” Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7 July 2008, accessed 21 July 2008 <http://www.kaisernetwork.org/Daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=53132>.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Financing the response to AIDS in low- and middle-income countries: International assistance from the G8, European Commission and other donor Governments, 2007, (Menlo Park, CA; Geneva, Switzerland: The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and UNAIDS July 2008), accessed 22 July 2008, <http://www.kff.org/hivaids/upload/7347_04-2.pdf>.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Michael Abramowitz, “At Summit, More Promises of African Aid: Amid Fears of the G-8 Missing Its Goals, Some Urge ‘Turning Words Into Action,’” The Washington post, 10 July 2008, accessed 21 July 2008 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/07/08/ST2008070801074.html>.

[ix] “G-8 Commitment to Maternal and Reproductive Health is a Welcome Boost to Poor Women Worldwide, says UNFPA,” (New York, NY), UNFPA, 9 July 2008, accessed 22 July 2008 <http://www.unfpa.org/news/news.cfm?ID=1156>.

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