G8 reaches deal on African aid for health issues

Friday, June 8, 2007

G8 leaders in Heiligendamm, Germany on Thursday, June 7, 2007

G8 leaders at the 33rd G8 summit have announced a deal pledging US$60 billion in aid to Africa. The deal, to which all the leaders agreed, called "Growth and Responsibility for Africa" is a commitment to fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria on the continent. It is similar to the pledge made at the G8 at Gleneagles two years ago.

The communique says the G8 will "implement a package for HIV prevention, treatment and care" to achieve "as close as possible to universal access to treatment for all those who need it by 2010."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, "We are aware of our responsibility and we will honour our commitments."

Critics have noted, however, that the document, "Growth and Responsibility for Africa," estimates that it will "support life-saving anti-retroviral treatment through bilateral and multilateral efforts for approximately five million people." The United Nations says that 9.8 million people need such care, 7 million of whom live in Africa.

Groups advocating for Africa aid say it falls short of United Nations targets. "While lives will be saved with more money for AIDS, this represents a cap on ambition that will ultimately cost millions more lives," said Steve Cockburn of the Stop AIDS Campaign.

"Do they think we can’t read or count?" asked musician/activist Bono. "We are looking for accountable language and accountable numbers: we didn’t get them today."