In 2005, under massive public pressure, the G8 promised to lift millions out of poverty. They promised to double aid to developing countries, to cancel the crippling debts owed by some of the poorest nations, and to give all people access to HIV prevention, care, treatment and support.
Since then, the G8 has delivered on some of its promises, and 21 of the world’s poorest countries have had their debts cancelled. As a result, their governments are able to invest in education and health, rather than repaying loans.
Since 2005, $4 billion in debt relief has enabled the Zambian government to introduce free health care in rural areas. So doctors like Martin Mwalukanga, from the Ngwerere Rural Health Centre, can now offer medical care to four million people who previously weren’t able to afford it.
In addition to improved healthcare, millions more children are receiving an education because of debt relief. The Tanzanian and Ugandan governments are among those to have abolished school fees, while teachers in Benin, Burkina Faso and Madagascar are now receiving more training.
But there is still a long way to go
The G8 have not delivered on all they promised. Despite committing to extra $50 billion a year, the G8 leaders are falling short. This year, aid levels fell in countries like Italy, France, Japan and the UK. The global fund for education remains massively under-funded, as does the global fund to fight HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
In addition to delivering more aid, rich countries need to give better aid and work together more to make sure this money is used as effectively as possible. It needs to pay for recruitment, training and decent wages for health workers and teachers. The world is missing 4.25 million health workers, one million of which are needed in Africa, and two million teachers.
The world needs more people like Martin Mwalukanga. People in developing countries are campaigning hard for health for all, but they also need rich countries to play their part so that all people can have good quality healthcare and education.
This year, the Japanese government has put healthcare on the G8 agenda. This is a massive opportunity for the G8 to make a real difference to the lives of the world’s poorest people. By 2010, four million lives could be saved every year if the G8 takes `Action Now! and fulfils its commitments. At the moment this remains a big if but you can help push them to act.
You changed lives in 2005. Take action now to demand that the G8 promises are kept – and change people’s lives again in 2008.