Remaining G8 Representatives Release Summit Communique, Including Action Steps on HIV/AIDS
Six of the eight heads of state and government remaining at the G8 summit in Evian, France, have "wrapp[ed] up" talks and released their final summit communique, the AFP/Age reports (AFP/Age, 6/3). The G8 Action Plan "reaffirm[s]" the group's support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, including an international donors' and supporters' conference to be held in Paris in July to "develop strategies for mobilizing resources in order to secure sustainable long term financing for the fund and other complementary efforts, and to achieve cost effective results-targeted management of the Global Fund." The Action Plan also calls for strengthening health systems in developing countries as a "framework for increasing access" to health care, medicine and treatment. In addition, the G8 calls for increasing access to medicines, which includes resolving disagreements within the World Trade Organization negotiations on expanding access to generic drugs, including those used to treat HIV/AIDS, in developing countries (G8 Action Plan, 6/3). WTO talks in Geneva over generic drug access have been stalled since members missed a Dec. 31, 2002, deadline to reach an agreement. U.S. negotiators in February refused to sign a deal under the Doha declaration to allow developing nations to override patent protections to produce or import generic versions of drugs to combat public health epidemics unless wording was included to specify which diseases constitute a public health epidemic (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/2). The Action Plan calls for a "multilateral solution in the WTO to address the problems faced by [developing] countries, rebuilding the confidence of all parties." The communique concludes, "Global health crises call for close international cooperation on policies and methods. ... We will work in partnership with developing countries, the private sector, multilateral organizations and nongovernmental organizations to help achieve these health goals" (G8 Action Plan, 6/3).
International health workers at the Global Health Council's annual conference last weekend in Washington, D.C., questioned the commitment of Western countries to increasing contributions to the Global Fund, NPR's "All Things Considered" reports. According to NPR, "many health workers" were "baffled by the unkept promises of industrialized countries" (Wilson, "All Things Considered," NPR, 6/2). The G8 summit made little progress in increasing contributions to the international effort to combat HIV/AIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/2). President Bush "highlighted" a $15 billion, five-year U.S. plan to fight AIDS at the summit and "urged" other G8 leaders to make similar commitments to the effort (White House fact sheet, 6/2). Bush last week signed into law a bill that authorizes $15 billion over five years to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. In addition, it authorizes up to $1 billion in fiscal year 2004 for the Global Fund, but the amount actually appropriated is contingent upon the contributions of other countries. Under the measure, the United States can contribute up to $1 billion to the fund only if that amount totals no more than one-third of the fund's total contributions. Therefore, in order for the total $1 billion to be appropriated, other nations must contribute more money (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/2). According to NPR, the United Kingdom increased its pledge to the Global Fund to $280 million over the next five years and France tripled its pledge to $150 million after next year. However, the amounts are "far short" of the $1.5 billion currently needed by the fund, NPR reports.
AIDS Advocates Comment
Stephen Talugende of Uganda's People's Defense Forces said at the meeting, "I am very angry today. The G8 countries have failed to contribute their pledges. But my anger is caused by the fact that a country like Uganda managed to raise ... $2 million. Why [are] G8 countr[ies] failing to do so?" Relative to its economy, Uganda's contribution is approximately four times as much as the U.S. contribution, NPR reports. Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and chair of the WHO Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, said that the $200 million U.S. pledge to the Global Fund proposed by Bush in his fiscal year 2004 budget is a "pittance," adding, "We have to keep the truth in front of us, which is that we're not doing our part, Europe's not doing its part, the Global Fund cannot do its part." Anthony Fauci, head of the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the United States "can be more effective" by assisting countries directly, adding that the $200 million pledged to the fund in Bush's budget and future U.S. contributions to the Global Fund are "meant to complement each other" ("All Things Considered," NPR, 6/2). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer. A kaisernetwork.org HealthCast of selected speeches and sessions from the GHC conference is available online.