As leaders of the world’s richest countries flew into Germany today for the G8 summit, international agency Oxfam urged them to make concrete financial commitments to fund HIV/AIDS programs in developing countries. With aides scheduled to work in emergency session tonight, Oxfam warned that failure to act on health funding would result in needless deaths.
‘In 2005 the G8 pledged to achieve universal access to prevention, treatment and care by 2010, said Mark Fried, Oxfam Canada and Make Poverty History spokesman at the summit in Germany. ‘But no one’s written the cheques to pay for it. Mr. Harper must act now to avoid the embarrassment of a broken promise when Canada hosts the G8 in 2010.
Max Lawson, Senior Policy Advisor at Oxfam said: ‘What we need to see from the G8 is money, not just another bland communiquÃ©. By 2010, 10 million people will need treatment, and 7 million need treatment right now. In last minute talks, some countries, including Canada and Italy, are trying to avoid any mention of money.
Oxfam Canada Executive Director Robert Fox pointed to the government’s failure to fix Canada’s law on exports of generic versions of patented medicines to developing countries. ‘People are dying every day, yet in the three years the law has been on the books not a single pill has left Canada. One out of every three people in the world today cannot afford the medicine they need to treat deadly diseases like AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
‘Today alone, 4,000 children will be killed by diarrhoea and 1,400 women will die in pregnancy and childbirth, Fried said. ‘At last year’s G8, Mr. Harper pledged $450 million over ten years to invest in health systems. But to prevent these unnecessary and shameful deaths, Canada’s fair share of the cost is at least double that.
Oxfam is calling on the G8 to:
- Provide an additional US$21 billion in long-term, predictable aid to help developing countries to expand their public health services and hire millions of health workers
- Provide US$10 billion in annual funding for HIV/AIDS and reaffirm their commitment to fully replenish the Global Fund
- Introduce a global, co-ordinated funding mechanism for health service
- Acknowledge the right of developing countries to use public health safeguards in international intellectual property rules to ensure access to affordable medicines
At the alternative summit, where campaigners have been gathering since Saturday, Oxfam staged a stunt, with Big Head’ puppets of G8 leaders dressed as doctors and nurses testing the health of Africa, by holding stethoscopes to a map of the continent.
In Germany: Mark Fried, Oxfam Canada, 011-49-1766-801-5402
In Ottawa: Alexandra Lopoukhine, Oxfam Canada, 1-613-850-9723
Footage available: DVD-Cam tapes of hospitals in Malawi and Zambia.