G8 Pledges to Africa Insufficient, Some HIV/AIDS Advocates Say
Some HIV/AIDS advocates and other groups over the weekend criticized recent pledges from the Group of Eight industrialized nations to Africa as "insufficient" and "part of a pattern of unfulfilled promises," the Los Angeles Times reports (Retzlaff/Fleishman, Los Angeles Times, 6/9). G8 leaders 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.
The communique indicated the $60 billion would be disbursed "over the coming years" but did not lay out a specific time frame. Part of the funding includes $6 billion to $8 billion for the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The communique also "recommits" to pledges made during the 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, to increase aid to $50 billion annually by 2010. Leaders in the communique also pledged to help reduce malaria prevalence and deaths in 30 African countries. The communique includes more than $1 billion for such efforts.
The $60 billion will not be a "firm pledge" because "some countries are cautious about increased spending," according to some diplomats. 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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/8).
Some advocacy groups have said that G8 leaders have not fulfilled pledges made at Gleneagles concerning aid to Africa. Groups also said that the $60 billion commitment is not enough to provide drug access in Africa, where 65% of the world's HIV-positive people live. "The announcement of $60 billion to tackle disease is not the increase promised in Gleneagles," Kumi Naidoo, a member of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, said, adding, "There is no time frame for delivery and a deliberate absence of detail. We are appalled by the lack of urgency they are showing" (Los Angeles Times, 6/9). Irish musician and HIV/AIDS advocate Bono said the communique was designed to hide the actual funding level, adding, "I understand if they think rock stars can't add or subtract, or spell, or read. But some people around here can. This maze is designed to lose us. But we are not lost; the G8 [is] lost" (Landler, New York Times, 6/9). Aditi Sharma, head of the HIV/AIDS campaign for ActionAid, said, "Even this $60 billion smoke screen can't cover up for the abject failure of the G8 to move forward on [its] AIDS promises." Kate Krauss, spokesperson for the U.S.-based Physicians for Human Rights, said that there "needs to be a plan for meeting the previous commits made at Gleneagles" (Jacobson, AP/International Herald Tribune, 6/8).
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that G8 leaders would meet their responsibilities to developing countries. After meeting with representatives from six African countries, she added, "On the other hand, we want to stress that we also have expectations about what should happen in Africa." According to Merkel, the $60 billion is "not yet enough" because "Africa is not only a continent with many diseases, it is also a continent with many chances for the future" (Los Angeles Times, 6/9). In addition, Merkel said that the summit was "successful" and that Germany secured "far-reaching agreements" on its main priorities, which included Africa (New York Times, 6/9).