G8 Scores Low Marks on Fulfilling Promises To Boost HIV/AIDS Efforts, Report Says
The Group of Eight industrialized nations has complied with about 33% of the HIV/AIDS-related promises they made last year at the Gleneagles, Scotland, summit -- including increasing aid to the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria -- according to a report released on Wednesday ahead of next week's G8 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Pretoria News/Independent Online reports (Fabricius, Pretoria News/Independent Online, 7/14). In their final communique at last year's summit, G8 leaders also agreed to cancel debt for the world's poorest nations. The previous month, G8 finance ministers had agreed to increase efforts to provide universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment by 2010, as well as encourage research into vaccines for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. They also agreed to an immediate doubling of aid to Africa to $50 billion annually by 2010 to fight poverty and disease on the continent (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/3). The University of Toronto-based G8 Research Group for its compliance report, written by UT professor John Kirton and colleagues, gave each G8 country and the European Union a score of plus one if the country was in "full compliance" with a Gleneagles promise, a zero if it was a "work in progress" and a minus one if there was a "lack of compliance," according to the report. The researchers found that regarding promises made on HIV/AIDS, Japan, Russia, the U.S. and the E.U. were in full compliance; Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom were works in progress; and Italy had a lack of compliance (Kirton et al., "2005 Gleneagles Final Compliance Report," 7/12). Overall, the report said the G8 and the E.U. have complied with about 65% of the promises they made last year (Pretoria News/Independent Online, 7/14). British Prime Minster Tony Blair at the summit in St. Petersburg is expected to present a progress report on the commitments made at Gleneagles, South Africa's Business Day reports. South African President Thabo Mbeki plans to advocate greater compliance for commitments made to Africa from G8 leaders. "It is important that the G8 begins to understand that making commitments to Africa without implementation is not helping," South African Deputy Prime Minister Aziz Pahad said at a news conference on Wednesday (Ensor, Business Day, 7/13).
Russia Plans To Address HIV, TB Coinfection at Summit
Russia at the summit in St. Petersburg plans to discuss issues related to the increasing number of people coinfected with TB and HIV, Gennady Onishchenko, the country's chief medical officer, said recently, ITAR-TASS News Service reports (ITAR-TASS News Service, 7/13). Onishchenko has said that global health issues, including HIV/AIDS, will be among the top agenda items at the summit, adding that the leaders plan to sign a document establishing guidelines for combating infectious diseases worldwide. He also has reiterated Russia's support of a U.S. initiative launched in 2004 to create a global network for developing an HIV vaccine (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/13).
Chirac Opinion Piece
The G8 "must keep its promises" to provide universal antiretroviral treatment by 2010, comply with a World Trade Organization agreement on generic drugs and provide money to the Global Fund, French President Jacques Chirac writes in a Christian Science Monitor opinion piece. Chirac writes that health systems need to be built up in order to curb pandemics, adding that in St. Petersburg he will propose an initiative to create health insurance systems in developing countries similar to those created in Europe about 100 years ago. In addition, Chirac says he will attempt to convince leaders of both "the rich and the emerging countries" of the "urgent need for new funding to overcome poverty and pandemics," adding, "As I do every year, I shall impress on my G8 colleagues the imperative of a partnership with Africa" (Chirac, Christian Science Monitor, 7/14).
NPR's "All Things Considered" on Thursday reported on the global health topics likely to be discussed at the G8 summit, including HIV/AIDS and TB. The segment includes comments from Kirton, Zambian TB and HIV/AIDS advocate Winstone Zulu and Wieslaw Jakubowiak, World Health Organization TB program coordinator for Russia (Wilson, "All Things Considered," NPR, 7/13). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.