G8 Leaders Pledge $60B To Fight HIV/AIDS, Fund Other Programs in Africa, Official Says
Leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in the final communique issued at the close of their summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, agreed to provide more than $60 billion to fight HIV/AIDS and address other issues in Africa, Germany's Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul announced Friday before G8 leaders met with African and international officials, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports (AP/International Herald Tribune, 6/8). According to the Financial Times, about half of the $60 billion will come from President Bush's recent request for a five-year, $30 billion extension of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Williamson, Financial Times, 6/8). Germany will contribute $5.4 billion between 2007 and 2015, according to Wieczorek-Zeul (AP/International Herald Tribune, 6/8).
The communique indicated the $60 billion would be disbursed "over the the coming years" but did not lay out a specific time frame, Reuters UK reports (Chambers/Heller, Reuters UK, 6/8). Part of the funding includes $6 billion to $8 billion for the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, according to AFP/Yahoo! News (Cole, AFP/Yahoo! News, 6/8). The communique also "recommits" to the aid pledges made during the 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, to increase aid to $50 billion annually by 2010 (Financial Times, 6/8). Leaders in the communique also pledged to support local production of drugs, including antiretrovirals, to ensure lower prices for treatments. The document also includes three "significant dollar commitments" to support actions on mother-to-child HIV transmission, pediatric treatments, and maternal and child health totaling $4.8 billion, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. Leaders in the communique also pledged to help reduce malaria prevalence and deaths in 30 African countries (AFP/Yahoo! News, 6/8). According to the Times, the communique includes more than $1 billion for such efforts (Financial Times, 6/8). In addition, the communique pledges support for national health strategies and peacekeeping efforts in Africa, as well as $500 million for education programs in 2007 and support for long-term funding (AFP/Yahoo! News, 6/8).
The $60 billion will not be a "firm pledge" because "some countries are cautious about increased spending," according to some diplomats, the Times reports. The final communique also includes the goal of providing five million HIV-positive people with drug access by 2010 -- the treatment target included in a draft of the communique dated June 1 -- according to an unnamed source close to the German delegation. Leaders announced a target of providing 10 million people with drug access by 2010 in the Gleneagles communique, according to the Times (Financial Times, 6/8).
British Prime Minister Tony Blair praised the communique, the PA/Guardian reports. "The important thing about what we have agreed is that we have recommitted ourselves to all the commitments we made ... at Gleneagles," Blair said, adding, "It's a deal between Africa and the developed world, and just as we have recommitted ourselves to substantial increases in support and help, so Africa has recommitted itself to its responsibilities as part of a partnership -- proper governance against corruption, proper democracy and so on" (PA/Guardian, 6/8). Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund, said the G8 agreement "makes it possible to defeat" HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria (Global Fund release, 6/8). German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, "We are aware of our obligations and would like to fulfill our promises" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 6/8).
"We will have to watch the G8 carefully to see they keep their promises," Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, said, adding, "But even if they do keep them, the funding falls far short of what is needed" (GAA release, 6/8). "We must not be distracted by big numbers," an unnamed Oxfam policy adviser said, adding, "What the $60 billion headline means at best is just three billion extra in aid by 2010. Before this summit, Oxfam showed the G8 were set to miss their 2010 target by a massive $30 billion. Today's announcement may only close that gap to $27 billion." Irish HIV/AIDS advocate Bono said of the communique, "I think it is deliberately the language of obfuscation. It is deliberately misleading" (Reuters UK, 6/8).
NPR's "All Things Considered" on Thursday reported on the summit, including the HIV/AIDS agreement. The segment includes comments on HIV/AIDS from Jurgen Wilhelm, director general of the German Development Service; Eve Odete of Oxfam; and a representative from South Africa (Harris, "All things Considered," NPR, 6/7). Audio of the segment and expanded NPR coverage are available online.