G8 Italy 2009 - Partnership sends open letter to Leaders
BLOG: Debra Jones- Family Care International, Director, Global Advocacy
In the shadow of the Roman Pantheon and the Italian parliament, dozens of civil society groups from across the globe met in Rome on July 6 and 7 to strategize for this year’s meeting of Heads of State from the G8 countries. The economic crisis, food security, and climate change are the topics of the G8 which is taking place in L’Aquila, Italy from July 8 to 10. Health is less prominent in the draft communiqué, falling under the topic of common goods that are basic human rights, including education, clean water, and sanitation.
What is important about this G8 meeting? President Obama will be addressing pro-development issues for the first time. We expect to see a dramatic shift is US policy on development issues, especially in the area of global health. Rumor has it that the greatest success of this G8 may be a final communiqué with language on sexual and reproductive health and rights, largely pushed by the Obama Administration. Additionally, some say that a new global health financing method may be announced, such as an international health fund.
Civil society groups are being kept a distance from the main G8 meeting and will have to travel two hours daily from Chieti to L’Aquila to keep the pressure on Heads of State. For many, this G8 is being seen as prep for the coming year. 2010 is a year of deadlines on the road to the MDGs.
The maternal, newborn, and child health community must articulate its demand to G8 leaders and put pressure on the public agenda over the next 12 months. Gradualism is not enough. We need old commitments to be fulfilled, such as the US$60 billion pledge made at the 2007 G8 to fight pandemics and to strengthen health systems and their human resources. We need new commitments to address the US$10.2 billion annual shortfall for maternal, newborn, and child health, as well as US$1.5 billion for sexual and reproductive health. Finally, we need transparency and accountability regarding decisions, pledges, and disbursements.
Earthquake tremors have been felt for days in L’Aquila as the momentum builds for this year’s G8. Civil society demands that G8 leaders take this as a sign that they need to shake things up too — by taking bold measures with clear timetables to improve maternal, newborn, and child health.