The $60 billion
pledge by the world's leading industrial nations to
combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases in Africa
has fallen disappointingly short of expectations and
is a major setback for the fight against the epidemic
ravaging the continent, activists and campaigners said
Members of the G8
met with African leaders on their summit's concluding
day in Germany Friday, agreeing on a program that will see
half the funds come from earlier pledges by the United
States, with other nations contributing the rest
in an attempt to reaffirm its commitment to lift
Africa out of poverty.
The Global Fund
to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which will
receive $6 billion to $8 billion of the new funds, welcomed
''This is a
strong G8 agreement that makes it possible to defeat the
pandemics of AIDS, TB, and malaria,'' said Dr. Michel
Kazatchkine, the fund's executive director said in a
stadium. ''The endorsement by the G8 leaders, a
threefold increase from the current level as part of their
recommitment to universal access to treatment, is very good
But others said
the declaration fell short of the promises made two years
ago at the G8 Gleneagles Summit in Perthshire, Scotland.
are dismayed by its vague language and lack of planning
to meet ambitious goals, despite its promise to add $30
billion to U.S. commitments,'' said Kate Krauss,
spokeswoman for the U.S.-based Physicians for Human
despite commitments made by the G8 at the 2005 meeting,
there has been little progress toward the goal of
achieving universal access to comprehensive HIV/AIDS
prevention programs, treatment and care, and support
by 2010, or toward developing and strengthening African
communique is turning into a wish list and not a
document that is going to save lives,'' Krauss said.
''There needs to
be a plan for meeting the previous commits made at
Gleneagles,'' she said. ''If there is no specific plan for
meeting the goals that they are setting out, they
In addition, she
said the G8 leaders had failed to address the critical
issue of a dire lack of health care workers in Africa,
saying more than 1 million were needed to adequately
provide for people there.
''There needs to
be a budget, a financial plan and there is nothing but
empty promises,'' Krauss said.
put the number of people needing AIDS treatment by 2013
at 12 million, which leaves more than 8 million people who
will die without treatment unless the U.S. or other G8
countries fill the gap.
''Even this $60
billion smoke screen can't cover up for the abject
failure of the G8 to move forward on their AIDS promises.
This is devastating news for the 40 million people
living with HIV and AIDS,'' said Aditi Sharma, who
heads the HIV/AIDS campaign for ActionAid
International. ''Twenty-four thousand people have died over
the last three days while G8 leaders have been
wrangling over text on how many lives to save.''
AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa, said the
announcement was a ''betrayal'' of the commitment made at
''It is clear
that the rich countries are scaling back their commitment
to people living with HIV. It gives a signal to African
governments that treatment is half as important as it
was yesterday. It is devastating for what it portends
for future financial commitment to universal access to
treatment,'' he said.
In the West
African nation of Mali, a conference of civil society groups
organized as a countersummit to the G8 focused on other
issues. They say the G8 needs to ''proceed
immediately with the immediate and total cancellation
of Africa's bilateral and multilateral debt.''
In a final
communique, the meeting also called for a ''more just
and equitable global market'' and for the respect of
''freedom of circulation for people between borders,''
a reference to the difficulty many Africans have in
obtaining work or travel visas abroad.
About 600 people
attended the Forum of the Poor conference, which ended
Thursday night in Mali's southern city of Sikasso. Most were
educators, academics, or representatives from women
and youth groups from Francophone African countries.
The meeting, part of a global network of Social Forums
designed to provide a venue for ordinary citizens to speak
on economic policy, has taken place alongside every G-8
summit since 2002.
The group also
demanded that the International Monetary Fund and the
World Bank be replaced by a ''Bank of the South'' that would
give all countries a say in how development is pursued
in poor countries and design economic policies that
could apply across states. In addition, the conference
called for the end of agricultural subsidies by rich nations
that undercut their ability to export. (AP)