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Africa: Eyes on the G8

AfricaFocus Bulletin
May 23, 2007 (070523)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

The G8 (Group of 8) summit of the world's richest nations is scheduled to meet June 6-8 on the Baltic coast of Germany, and activists are demanding action not rhetoric on commitments to Africa. ActionAid, for example, is calling for at least 8,000 people, the number dying of AIDS every day, to upload images of their eyes to signal the leaders that the world is watching. Visit http://eyes.actionaid.org.uk/ to add your eyes and your message.

Africa, along with global warming and global economic cooperation. Although prospects for action that goes beyond rhetoric seem slim, a host of organizations are calling for the group to live up to their promises, with petitions and with demonstrations planned for the events.

Without dramatically stepped-up commitments and implementation of promises, there is no chance that G8 commitments such as providing universal access to AIDS treatment by 2010 will be met. While the number on treatment has increased significantly, to some 25% of those in need of treatment, at the present rate in 2010 more than half of those needing treatment will still not be receiving it. And some 77 million children will still lack access to the basic human right of education.

In addition to the "The World is Watching" campaign (http://eyes.actionaid.org.uk), this AfricaFocus Bulletin contains two petitions to the G8 still open for signatures, by individuals and by organizations, respectively, and one, from African civil society health organizations, focusing in particular on the need for support for African health plans, including the prevision of adequate finance for health workers. Other themes in the petitions include living up to commitments on funding for HIV/AIDS, for education, and for development assistance more generally.

For additional background information on the G8 meeting, see http://www.bmz.de/en/EU_G8 and http://www.g7.utoronto.ca

Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today contains an article on the crucial issues of financing healthcare workers in African countries, published last month in the Public Library of Science Medicine journal.

For earlier AfricaFocus Bulletins on health-related issues, visit http://www.africafocus.org/healthexp.php

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

Tell G8 nations to keep their promises on AIDS, Health Care Workers & Education!

On June 6 the leaders of the wealthiest nations will meet in Germany at the G8 Summit. This is not just any meeting. It's a meeting where life and death decisions will be made, affecting the lives of millions of people.

http://action.globalaidsalliance.org/page/signup

You can help. Join Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and tell G8 nations to keep their promises!

In 2005, the G8 Leaders made important commitments on poverty, aid to poor countries, HIV/AIDS, health systems, and education. These should be considered solemn promises! Breaking them is morally unacceptable.

Yet, the G8 is not on track to keep these promises:

  • Aid levels have actually declined;
  • Less than half of all people in urgent need of AIDS treatment by 2010 will be receiving it;
  • 77 million children have no access to school; and
  • Africa alone faces a shortage of nearly 1.5 million health workers.

Join us in petitioning the G8 leaders! This petition calls for the G8 nations to:

  • agree on a financing plan to reach the promise of universal access to all AIDS services by 2010,
  • fully support a coordinated plan to strengthen health systems,
  • and provide full funding for education so every child can have the chance to go to school.

We need thousands of signatures by June 5! Tell the G8 leaders they must get AIDS and education funding back on track!

http://action.globalaidsalliance.org/page/signup

Thank you for making a difference!!


A Call to the 2007 G8 Summit to Support African National Health Plans and Comprehensive Health Workforce Strategies

[distributed by Dr. Lola Dare, Executive Secretary, ACOSHED (African Council for Sustainable Health Development) acoshed@gmail.com and Eric Friedman, Physicians for Human Rights (efriedman@phrusa.org). Signatories were limited to African organizations.]

We are African organizations deeply committed to improving the health of the people of our continent. Yet we are deeply concerned about the lack of progress, and in some countries reversal of progress, resulting in millions of preventable deaths that continue to burden our countries each year. It is clear that as long as our health systems remain weak in many dimensions and our countries face a health workforce crisis, the current unacceptable trends will persist.

In spite of this slow progress, we remain optimistic. We have observed progress in some regions and countries, and identify with the deepening commitment to the health of many of our Government and institutions. Our Regional Economic Communities have assumed an important leadership role within the continent in catalyzing actions required to strengthen health systems and achieve health MDGs. We are convinced that the engagement of our partners locally and globally can translate into the political will, resources, and efficiency required to transform health on our continent. With so many lives at stake, our neighbors, our children, and ourselves, we must succeed.

Cognizant of the continuing intolerable burden of disease, African Union ministers of health have developed an Africa Health Strategy 2007-2015 that seeks to "provides a strategic direction to Africa's efforts in creating better health for all." At the core of the Africa Health Strategy is the strengthening of health systems based on carefully costed National Health Plans that incorporate the commitments made by African governments, including achieving the Millennium Development Goals and universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment, care, prevention, and support by 2010.

The chief responsibility for the success of these plans lies without our own governments. We will hold our governments accountable. We will insist - and are demanding - that they take the necessary steps to achieve the promises of good health, a foundation of healthy societies. Collectively, we will hold our governments accountable to increasing health sector investments to at least 15% of the national budget, improving the efficiency in allocation and application of these resources, and the implementation of health workforce and systems strengthening strategies capable of providing quality health care to all people. We further commit to work with our governments to identify sustainable financing strategies that can replace point-of-service payments (i.e., user fees) for essential health services and to meet their other commitments and responsibilities including as part of the human right to health.

However, the successful implementation of the National Health Plans requires support from Africa's development partners, especially from the nations that comprise the G8. Even if African governments significantly increase their own funding for National Health Plans, these plans will have significant financing gaps. Many of the actions required for these plans to succeed will require solutions and expertise that crosses national and even continental boundaries.

We call upon the upcoming G8 summit in Germany to recognize the Africa Health Strategy developed by our health ministers and initiate substantive dialogue with the African Union, regional economic communities, national governments, and civil society organizations about the partnerships and support that will enable to our countries to effectively implement this strategy.

We further call upon the G8 countries to fulfill existing pledges, including the commitment of 0.7% of their own GNI to ODA, the doubling of aid to Africa by 2010, and to adhere to the commitments of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, including those that relate to alignment and harmonization of aid investments with country plans and leadership.

This dialogue should be backed by firm commitments about steps that we know will be required of wealthy countries if African National Health Plans are to succeed. We ask that this G8 summit make these commitments:

Fiscal space

1. Provide long-term, predictable funding to cover financing gaps identified in National Health Plans and plans for universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment, care, prevention, and support, and harmonize health assistance with country-driven National Health Plans.

2. Work with International Financial Institutions and developing country governments and civil society to ensure that fiscal and monetary policies are aligned with the best estimates of the fiscal space required to achieve the MDGs and other human development goals and commitments.

3. Accelerate debt cancellation and ensure that debt cancellation supplements rather than displaces aid.

4. Provide the needed financial and technical support to developing countries to design and implement sustainable financing schemes that can support the elimination of point-of-service payments (user fees) for essential health services and that are designed to enable all people, including the poor, access to quality health services.

Health Systems and workforce

5. Work with the AU and other continental partners to identify a basic package of health systems interventions, implemented at the district level, that can provide the backbone for the delivery of health service packages required to achieve the goals of universal access to health and the MDGs.

6. Support the development and implementation of inter-sectoral and comprehensive health workforce strategies that are integrated with a broader health sector response and public service reforms to address numbers of health workers as well as other variables such as internal distribution, skills mix, work environments, productivity, and management capacity.

7. Engage developing countries to formulate a comprehensive strategy to address health worker migration that emphasizes co-development, including by adopting policies to develop self-sustainable workforces within OECD countries and to follow ethical recruitment practices.

8. Increase support to developing countries to fully utilize TRIPS flexibilities to improve access to medicine, including by helping build capacity to utilize these flexibilities and by avoiding any restrictions to such flexibilities - or any other provisions that may be detrimental to health - in trade agreements.

Mutual Accountability

9. Support initiatives and programs that promote peer and independent mechanisms to track the progress of our governments and their partners to the commitments and declarations made at global, continental, and regional fora.

10. Through diplomatic levers, technical assistance, and other strategies, support African civil society efforts to hold our own governments accountable to their commitments and responsibilities.


Civil Society Letter to G8 Heads of State

Please see a letter below to the G8 heads of state regarding universal access. This letter will be officially "sent" on June 2nd, the Night of Solidarity, when German campaigners, supported by other countries, are planning a final mobilisation event before the G8 summit. It is also available for use over the Global Week of Action, May 20 - May 26. To sign on, please email: signon@g8aidscampaign.org. Or visit http://www.g8aidscampaign.org

To sign on, please email: signon@g8aidscampaign.org. Find out what civil society organisations are demanding the G8 to do. Text of letter follows.

2 June 2007

Dear G8 Heads of State,

Re: Civil society demands you keep the promise on universal access.

We are writing as campaigners, activists, people living with and affected by HIV & AIDS, and civil society organisations working to fight the AIDS pandemic.

We welcome Germany's commitment to ensure that Africa and the AIDS pandemic are high on the G8 and EU agenda, in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We are particularly heartened by Chancellor Merkel's focus on addressing the feminisation of the pandemic.

As Germany presides over both the G8 and the EU this year, we believe it is a historic opportunity for you to deliver on the 2005 Gleneagles commitment to universal access by 2010. It is two years since the G8 set this ambitious target and we are concerned that the additional funds needed to achieve this goal have not been identified, let alone made available to scale up the world's response against AIDS.

We are gravely concerned that the international community has lost the momentum of the 3 by 5 campaign to rapidly scale up treatment. We welcomed the universal access commitment spearheaded by the G8 in 2005. However with only three years to 2010, the G8 is on the brink of squandering its legacy of having played a leadership role in promoting this bold promise. For example, at the current rate of scale-up, less than half of all people in urgent need of treatment by 2010 will be receiving it. Five million lives stand to be lost . Clearly we need to fight together to ensure that "as close as possible" to universal access is not misinterpreted in this way.

In this letter we outline our main reasons for concern and make specific demands to be met before the end of 2007.

1. UNAIDS estimates that the global AIDS response needs $20-23 billion per annum, but on current commitments we are $8 billion short in 2007 and $10 billion short annually from 2008-2010. G8 leaders should deliver a funding plan for universal access by

2. This should include specific resource commitments based on fair share contributions and ensure additional, predictable and sustainable AIDS funding to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and other donor mechanisms. Further, the G8 should use their influence with African heads of state to encourage them to live up to their own target of 15% national budget allocation to health as laid out in the 2001 Abuja Declaration.

3. Only a few countries have submitted costed national plans for achieving universal access. This was the first step of the universal access process, and already leaders are faltering. In many of the countries we write from there are either no plans for universal access - where they exist they often lack quality, transparency, and engagement of civil society. We request that G8 leaders help in getting costed national plans drafted more quickly, with better quality, and greater engagement of civil society.

4. As leaders in the international response to AIDS, the G8 needs to put clear global targets to the universal access goals. Civil society across the world also urgently requires these targets for measuring your success and ours. Please state your global targets for providing universal access to treatment, care, prevention and support. These should include a pledge to provide treatment to 9.8 million people by 2010.

5. Implementation and delivery are not keeping up with need, and so we ask the G8 to put in place a permanent mechanism to monitor and review progress on AIDS commitments. This is particularly necessary in relation to international efforts for universal access to AIDS treatment, care and prevention.

6. As heads of state of the most powerful economic nations, we want you to encourage the use of flexibilities in the WTO TRIPS agreement in a manner supportive of public health and to refrain from including provisions that go beyond TRIPS in bilateral and regional trade agreements. We request that additional funding is committed to the WHO in order for them to take the necessary lead in developing a robust plan on access to essential second-line antiretroviral drugs in collaboration with its partners.

The lives of millions depend on our joint efforts to make universal access a reality. Your commitment and leadership can help ensure that we keep the promise on universal access by 2010.


AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin, or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see http://www.africafocus.org