Global health leaders call on G8 Summit to commit long-term predictable funding for health systems
9 June 2008
9 June 2008, Geneva - In an open letter to the International Herald Tribune, heads of the U.N. agencies and key leaders in health called for new commitments by the leaders at the G-8 summit in Toyako, Japan, in July 2008 to reduce child deaths, undernutrition and global diseases. They also could provide more clean water and sanitation to people around the world. The members of the Group of Eight are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States.
The health leaders also called on G-8 leaders to step up long-term efforts to combat AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, polio and other health threats to build on progress they have made from previous commitments.
Full text of the Open Letter
"As health experts from G-8 countries meet in Tokyo this week to decide which health priorities G-8 leaders should adopt at their July summit, we urge them to remember the "spirit of Okinawa" and to recall the wisdom of their own declaration that "health is key to prosperity."
G-8 leaders made that statement at their last Japanese summit in Okinawa in the summer of 2000 — and then turned talk into action. They set in motion efforts that ultimately gave birth to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Later that same year, UN member states set the eight Millennium Development Goals, with reducing poverty and hunger and improving health at their core.
These and other actions have produced measurable results. Access to HIV treatments in developing countries has soared; TB epidemics in many countries have been blunted; polio teeters on the edge of eradication; measles, a major killer of impoverished children, has been substantially reduced; malaria interventions have produced rapid declines in parts of Africa; and neglected tropical diseases are back in the public eye. Without doubt, the spirit of Okinawa drove efforts that improved the health of millions of people.
Now, the Hokkaido summit presents Japan and its fellow G-8 leaders with an ideal opportunity to protect these achievements, to renew existing commitments to reproductive health and the fight against HIV, TB and malaria, to finish polio eradication, and to address the terrible gaps that remain in public health.
We urge the G-8 to:
Promote coordination of the many existing single-disease initiatives by strengthening the health systems to deliver integrated services to communities, then train new health care workers — and provide the money to pay them. Commit to new, long-term predictable financing, and link this investment to quantifiable results including fewer maternal, newborn and child deaths, less childhood undernutrition, fewer HIV, malaria and TB infections, and expanded access to treatments.
Improve and dramatically scale up high-impact interventions in the areas of nutrition, clean water and sanitation.
The evidence for the G-8's conclusion that health is the key to prosperity has strengthened and today's G-8 has even more reasons for investing in global public health. Better health in the developing world is a vital contribution to our collective security. A world that neglects the health of people is neither stable nor secure.
Tachi Yamada, President, Global Health Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive secretary, GAVI Alliance
Michel Kazatchkine, Executive director, Global Fund to Fight to fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Peter Piot, Executive director, UNAIDS
Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive director, UNFPA
Ann M. Veneman, Executive director, UNICEF
Joy Phumaphi, Vice president, for human development, World Bank