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HIV/AIDS at the G8 Summit
  Reported by Jules Levin
Below is a consolidation of various reports on HIV at the G8 summit including some severe criticisms and a report on discussions on tariffs for importing drugs.
G8 Leaders Pledge To Fight Infectious Diseases, Prioritize HIV/AIDS Treatment, Vaccine Research
[Jul 17, 2006]
The Group of Eight industrialized nations on Sunday at their summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, adopted a document ( pledging to increase the fight against infectious diseases -- including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria -- worldwide, RIA Novosti reports. The 10-page document calls for increased cooperation in infectious disease surveillance and monitoring, intensified research and public awareness efforts, and increased access to prevention and treatment (RIA Novosti [1], 7/16). "Major diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and measles continue to exact a heavy toll on economies and societies around the world, particularly in developing countries," the document says, adding that for a "large number of these diseases there are still no effective drugs, vaccines or other treatment available for the majority of the population in less developed countries" (Kyodo/Yahoo! Asia News, 7/16). G8 leaders in the document also pledged to make the fight against HIV/AIDS a priority as outlined in the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (, including providing universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention and care programs by 2010 (RIA Novosti [1], 7/16). Russian President Vladmir Putin, speaking at a meeting of G8 leaders and students on Sunday, said, "If programs now in the making are implemented, access to drugs will be provided for all" people living with HIV by the end of the decade (RIA Novosti [2], 7/16).
Action Aid says:
Months of careful planning, discussions, meetings and coordination for the first Group of Eight (G-8) forum chaired by Russia was quickly cleared aside on Saturday to focus attention on arriving at a joint resolution on the Lebanon-Israel conflict.
The summit, held in St. Petersburg from July 15-17, was scheduled to discuss issues such as energy security, economics, HIV/AIDS, and education. However, the seizing of the two Israeli soldiers last week left the world leaders to grapple with how to cooperatively proceed to end the escalating Middle East violence.
G8 leaders agree to keep Africa's woes in mind
July 16, 2006, 17:45
World leaders have pledged to keep Africa's woes in mind and to track actively their progress on cutting poverty and supporting development, a move welcomed by campaigners.
Tony Blair, the British prime minister, put assistance for Africa at the top of the agenda at the Group of Eight (G8) summit he hosted in 2005, but this year's host Russia initially ignored the topic.
Britain pushed for discussion on Africa in St Petersburg and the leaders agreed to review efforts to boost aid, cut debt and improve trading conditions for the continent at next year's meeting in Germany.
Africa will be debated at this year's summit tomorrow in a session including the G8, Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general and the African Union (AU).
Debt relief
Campaigners blame the on-again off-again attention of the outside world for the sometimes haphazard approach to relieving poverty in Africa and had worried that the blaze of publicity the continent got last year would vanish without lasting effect.
World leaders agreed more than 50 detailed recommendations from Britain's Commission for Africa report last year and progress has been made in some areas, notably debt relief.
In the past year, 14 of the most heavily indebted countries in Africa have received full multilateral debt relief from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Nigeria had the biggest ever debt cancellation for an African nation.
Relief from burdensome debt payments in Cameroon, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia has already swelled spending on education, health and Aids.
Aid increase
Official aid to Africa increased by $25 billion although campaigners say the G8 as a whole was off target on promises to double aid to Africa by $50 billion by 2010. A report by Data, a lobby group, also said much more was needed to provide access to drug therapy to fight HIV.
While most campaigners say not enough has been done to fulfill G8 pledges of assistance since last year, they welcomed the formal commitment not to let Africa issues slip from sight.
British officials say that while progress has been made in easing debt burdens for some of the poorest African nations, more needs to be done to boost aid and getting a breakthrough in global trade talks is vital for alleviating poverty. - Reuters
G8 statements slammed
G8 still failing Africa
Progress on key issues facing the world's poorest region remains patchy at best, says Patrick Watt

Monday July 17, 2006
Guardian Unlimited
As the rain poured down today on the shores of the Gulf of Finland, the leaders of the world's most powerful economies ended a G8 summit that - while not a total washout on Africa - dampened hopes that the richest countries will get back on track soon to deliver key pledges on combating poverty in the world's poorest region.
There had been concerns that the Middle Eastern crisis would knock Africa and international development off the agenda. This didn't happen. Although the Middle East inevitably dominated the media coverage and the side meetings where deals get hatched, G8 leaders did sit down on Monday with the "outreach" group of emerging economies, as well as the African Union, World Bank and UN agencies.
They discussed the conclusions of a three-page update, jointly written by the British and Russians, that gauges progress made since Tony Blair made Africa and climate change the twin priorities of the 2005 Gleneagles summit.
But while the G8 was willing, partly under UK and French pressure, to talk about Africa, the self-assessment on which they based their discussions suggests that there is a lot less appetite to act. There was a tacit acknowledgement that more needs to be done - reflected in a long but vague "to do" list - but overall the G8 has judged itself generously, by claiming "substantial progress" on Africa.
It would be a distortion simply to write off last year's promises: the big positive is debt, where the G8 has made good progress. For 15 African countries the difference is already being felt as more children go to school, and more people get essential medicines and clean water.
But in most areas progress has been patchy at best. So, for example, while aid is increasing, it is happening at half the rate needed to reach the targets set last year: most of the rise is accounted for by the writing off of unserviced debts, and for Africa aid rose by less than $2bn last year.
Likewise, while three G8 countries have ratified the UN convention against corruption, five have not. And on the most important and intractable issues, such as trade, where G8 economic interests are at stake, progress has been negligible.
To stop the drift around these and other promises, the individual G8 countries must make specific and timebound plans to get back on track with their aid commitments, and to implement promises on education and HIV and Aids. G8 governments need to be embarrassed into making this happen.
But at the moment, the G8 leaders' enthusiastic promotion of peer reviews and transparency in Africa is not reflected in their own behaviour. The laggards on G8 pledges to Africa, such as Italy, Germany and the US on aid, and the buck-passers (everyone on trade), have been given a remarkably easy ride in St. Petersburg.
One of the positive results for Africa to emerge from this summit has been the agreement that when the G8 meet again next year, in Germany, they will once again review progress. But there will be little progress to review, unless individual G8 countries start to be held genuinely accountable for what they do or do not deliver.
One of the first things German chancellor, Angela Merkel, should do is agree that next year the G8 will discuss a full and frank Africa update that is written by Africans.
- Patrick Watt is writing on the G8 summit from St Petersburg for Guardian Unlimited. He is policy coordinator at ActionAid UK
G8 statements slammed
ActionAid International/: Reactions to the G8 Africa, infectious disease and education statements
On Africa
"We welcome the fact that UK and French pressure has led the G8 to agree a review of progress on Africa when they meet again in Germany in 2007. However, it is less clear how much progress we can expect on the back of today's announcements. The G8 has ignored the fact they're off track on aid, and stalling on education and HIV and AIDS." Moussa Faye, ActionAid Senegal director
On the fight against infectious diseases:
"Despite a lack of support from Germany and Japan, it's positive news that other G8 members are taking forward the Advanced Market Commitments initiative, creating incentives for the development of life-saving drugs. "However, the G8 has fallen short on HIV and AIDS, by repeating existing promises and - with the exception of Russia - not pledging money to bridge a $10 billion financing gap. Having made political capital last year by pledging universal access to treatment, the G8 is now slipping on implementation." Patrick Watt, ActionAid UK policy coordinator
On education:
"Four years on from the establishment of the Education Fast Track Initiative to get the world's poorest children into school, the G8 has failed the test by simply recycling last year's language. A Fast Track financing gap of over $400m is preventing some of the poorest countries from implementing carefully prepared plans, while 100 million children remain out of school. This summit has done next to nothing to address this crisis." Patrick Watt, ActionAid UK policy coordinator
G8 summit in Russia
17 Jul 2006 12:04:00 GMT
Source: Christian Aid - UK
Christian Aid
Reuters. From 15 to 17 July, one year on from the historic G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, world leaders are meeting in St Petersburg, Russia. Here Christian Aid looks at what has been achieved over the past 12 months in the key areas of aid, debt, trade, HIV and climate change.
Aid G8 and European donors pledged to increase aid by US$50 billion a year by 2010, of which half is to go to Africa. The EU promised to reach the 30-year-old target of increasing aid to 0.7% of GDP by 2015.
This was a huge campaigning success, though it still falls well short of what experts agree is needed to help fund the Millennium Development Goals.
Campaigners were also calling for better aid, with fewer strings attached. Aid is often used to push poor countries into making reforms which donors want to see, such as privatisation and trade liberalisation.
The British government has promised to stop tying aid to such policy conditions. But there is little progress from other G8 countries, despite recognition in the Gleneagles communique that developing countries have the right to 'decide, plan and sequence their economic policies to fit with their own development strategies'.
There must be a G8-wide commitment not to attach economic policy conditions to aid and to push for other donors, most importantly the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to do the same.
Christian Aid believes that it is time to shift the emphasis from the myth of aid and charity to justice. Developed countries must recognise that we are not generous benefactors but committed participants in a deeply unfair and exploitative system.
Debt As a result of last year's G8, 19 countries have already received significant debt cancellation, with others to follow.
But low income countries still owe US$500 billion in debts and the debt of all developing countries remains a staggering US$2.3 trillion.
Christian Aid wants 100% debt cancellation, this time without the onerous and undemocratic preconditions that have been imposed on indebted poor countries. Creditors must accept the responsibility they bear for the ongoing debt crisis and renounce this illegitimate and odious debt.
Trade Little was promised on trade at Gleneagles, with G8 leaders pushing talks on this issue to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit in December.
The meagre promises that were made have not been kept. Least Developed Countries (LDCs) were promised that all their products would be given duty-free and quota-free access to G8 markets.
At the WTO, this was watered down to 97% by the US. While this sounds like a lot, it means that key products, such as textile exports from Bangladesh can be totally excluded. WTO delegates are still quibbling over when and how to implement this promise.
Even if it is kept, it will not address the real non-tarrif barriers that LDCs face such as quality standards, which no one is really discussing.
The second G8 promise on trade was to give LDCs flexibility to 'design, plan and sequence' their own trade policies. The WTO has agreed to allow them to protect 'special products', generally agricultural ones.
But this is also being challenged during the ongoing talks, particularly by the US which wants to limit what products can be protected and for how long.
Christian Aid believes developing countries must be given the flexibility they have been promised on trade rules. Non-tariff barriers to access rich countries' markets must also be dealt with.
HIV and AIDS The G8 promised universal access to treatment for all those who need it - an estimated 10 million people - by 2010. UNAIDS estimates this would cost $23 billion a year for at least a generation. This is a great promise and needs to be implemented.
Today, only 20% of people who need treatment have access to it and funding for HIV is only half that is needed. The UK government is contributing its fair share but other G7 donors, particularly Japan, Italy, Germany and France, urgently need to increase their contributions.
Experts argue that an increased emphasis on prevention is sorely needed to address the longer-term problem of stemming the rate of infection. Only 20% of young women can correctly identify ways of preventing HIV transmission.
Climate change The fact the US signed a promise to 'act with resolve and urgency now' to tackle climate change was seen as a major step forward last summer. Since then, little has been done.
The US has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and Canada has abandoned its targets. Japan and Italy are also unlikely to meet their targets.
Meanwhile, scientists are reporting that climate change is taking place faster and to a greater extent than was previously feared. Christian Aid's recent report 'The Climate of Poverty' showed that climate change threatens to undermine other development gains.
For example, 182 million people in sub-Saharan Africa could die from climate change-related diseases by the end of the century if nothing is done to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Christian Aid wants all G8 countries to set an annual, contracting 'carbon budget' to bring down carbon dioxide emissions year-on-year. They must also, as the biggest current and historical emitters, compensate poor countries for the impacts they are already suffering.
There is an urgent need to shift the focus from securing supplies of coal, oil and gas to developing renewable energy, particularly for poor communities that do not yet have access to power.
Russia To Provide No-Cost Antiretrovirals By the end of 2006, as many as 15,000 HIV-positive people in Russia will have access to no-cost antiretroviral treatment, Onishchenko also announced on Tuesday, RIA Novosti reports. According to Onishchenko, the initial phase of the no-cost treatment program is expected to benefit about 20% of the 350,000 officially reported HIV-positive people. He added that the number of people receiving no-cost treatment could double in 2007. Onischenko also said that the program's main obstacle is breaking down the stigma that HIV-positive people face when seeking treatment. "Many of them fear disclosure of their personal information by doctors," he said, adding, "Society, too, behaves toward these people in a highly aggressive and selfish way" (RIA Novosti, 7/11).
G-8 Leaders Call for More AIDS Funding
By Associated Press
7:37 AM PDT, July 16, 2006
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Group of Eight leaders called Sunday for more AIDS funding to improve monitoring and to give more people access to treatment.
G-8 leaders said member nations would work to secure funds needed for 2006-07 to replenish the Global Fund earmarked for AIDS. They also called for the development of a four-year funding strategy.
"That's positive because it's an opportunity to get away from this constant cycle of funding shortages and emergency replenishment," said Oliver Buston of the group Debt AIDS Trade Africa. "It's an opportunity if they take it, and they need to take it."
But he said the plan issued by the leaders lacks specific action.
"What we were hoping for this time was a very detailed, time-bound plan of how the G-8 were going to meet there promise, and this document doesn't really deliver that," he said.
Double the existing number of health care workers is needed to improve the AIDS situation worldwide, said Eric Friedman, policy adviser for Physicians for Human Rights.
The G-8 agreement calls for "building the capacity of health care systems in poor countries through recruitment, training and deployment of public and private health workers," but Friedman said the statement does not say how those goals will be achieved.
"The agreement is not doing anything new," he said.
However, advocates praised Russia's announcement Sunday that it would repay US$270 million (euro213 million) that the Global Fund has spent in Russia by 2010.
"I hope it can serve as an example to the U.S. and other countries as an example of increasing their own contributions," Friedman said.
G8 Summit Over in St. Petersburg
The nations reaffirmed commitments to fight three major pandemics, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and agreed to work further with other donors to mobilize resources for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and to continuing to pursue as closely as possible to universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment for those who need it by 2010.
Action Aid: Africa talks at St Petersburg G8
Monday, 17 Jul 2006 09:25
St Petersburg G8 must tackle Africa "silent emergency"
"....G8 committed to providing universal access to treatment by 2010. UNAids says that an additional $10-12 billion is needed annually to achieve this. But this year, only $4.9 billion is available...."
As the G8 leaders discuss the urgent political and humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, they must not neglect the silent emergency of poverty that claims 20,000 lives each day, says campaign group ActionAid.
One year on from the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, leaders will take stock as they discuss a joint Russian and British progress report on implementation of their pledges on aid, debt, trade and HIV and Aids. Discussions on health and education will also address communicable disease and the needs of 100 million children who lack a basic education.
"Africa cannot afford for the G8 to drop it from the agenda in St. Petersburg this weekend," said Moussa Faye, ActionAid Senegal director. "Last year, the G8 reaped political capital from their pledges. But one year on, progress has been unacceptably patchy and slow.
"The G8 must take concrete steps now to get on track for reaching the targets set last year to increase and improve aid and provide universal treatment for HIV and Aids by 2010. Unless the G8 fulfil their pledges, health and education goals in Africa will be jeopardised."
Twelve months after the UK G8 summit, 19 countries have seen their debts to the World Bank, IMF and African Development Fund cancelled, releasing about $1 billion a year for poverty reduction. This deal now needs to be extended to another 40 of the poorest countries.
On aid, the current rate of increase is insufficient for countries to double their assistance to Africa by 2015.
"The G8 cannot double aid to Africa overnight," said Patrick Watt, Policy Coordinator with ActionAid UK. "Countries must increase budgets year on year in order to meet their promise of an extra $50 billion by 2010. But at the moment, Italy and Germany are not putting plans in place to do this, while the underlying growth in aid for other G8 countries is too slow. We're concerned that unless the G8 acts now, it will be left with a mountain to climb in terms of achieving its targets."
On HIV and Aids, the G8 committed to providing universal access to treatment by 2010. UNAids says that an additional $10-12 billion is needed annually to achieve this. But this year, only $4.9 billion is available.
"With health on the agenda this weekend, G8 leaders must close the gap between rhetoric and action on HIV and Aids," said Moussa Faye. "Only 1.3 million of the 6.5 million people in need of treatment are receiving it, and funding for the fight against Aids is half of what's needed."
UN health agency hails G8 commitment to tackle infectious diseases worldwide
17 July 2006 - Praising a series of detailed health commitments by the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations, currently holding their Summit in Russia, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today stressed the importance of tackling infectious diseases because of their "health, social, security and economic impacts."
The G8 agreed to strengthen the global network for surveillance and monitoring of infectious diseases, including improving transparency by all countries in sharing information, and also renewed its support to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, along with various other specific health goals, WHO said in a news release.
"Today the G8 spoke together on the essential need to tackle infectious diseases, because of their health, social, security and economic impacts," said Dr. Anders Nordstrm, acting Director-General of the WHO. "The commitments are detailed and specific, and represent another step forward in G8 leadership on public health."
Dr. Nordstrm led a senior WHO team at the Summit to discuss the issue of infectious diseases with G8 leaders, underscoring several priorities, including the need to sustain political and financial momentum for scaling up against the major infectious diseases and also the need to manage new disease outbreaks and threats - including a potential pandemic influenza outbreak.
The G8's commitment to tackling infectious diseases was included in a 12-page health outcome document that covered key issues, including surveillance, a possible human influenza pandemic, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, polio, measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases, and access to prevention, treatment and care.
The Russian Federation carried on the G8 tradition of supporting polio eradication by committing $18 million to the programme, as did the United Kingdom in Gleneagles at last year's Summit.
Also at the G8 Summit today, the head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) appealed for more international assistance for education efforts in developing countries, particularly in Africa.
"There are over 100 million children out of school in the world today, around 18 per cent of the total of school-age children. However, it is very serious in sub-Saharan Africa: almost 50 per cent of primary school-age children in West and Central Africa are out of school and more than one-third in Eastern and Southern Africa," said UNESCO Director-General Kochiro Matsuura.
The G8 education document, adopted on Sunday, among other provisions welcomed UNESCO's efforts to finalize a Global Action Plan to achieve international education goals and to provide a framework for coordinated and complementary action by multilateral aid agencies in carrying out efforts in countries.
Committing to Their Commitments
The Moscow Times
By Bertil Lindblad
Monday, July 17, 2006.
AIDS continues to kill 8,000 people around the world each day. More than 38 million people are now living with HIV, with an increasing number of new infections among women and girls. Only one in five people living with HIV have access to prevention and treatment services. Fifteen million children have been orphaned as a result of AIDS worldwide. AIDS is a global emergency and poses one of the most formidable challenges to the social development, progress and stability of the world. AIDS takes it heaviest toll among the young and most productive -- people aged 20 to 40 -- and the epidemic continues to threaten social stability and national security.
For nearly a decade, G8 leaders have recognized that AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and vaccine-preventable diseases slow economic development, perpetuate poverty and threaten security in large parts of the world. To this end the G8 has focused attention and resources on a strengthened response to the surging global AIDS pandemic. Critical achievements include the creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria at the 2001 Genoa Summit and the establishment of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise at the 2004 Sea Island Summit. At last year's G8 Summit in Gleneagles, leaders committed to getting "as close as possible to universal access to AIDS treatment by the year 2010." They also pledged to would work to reduce HIV infections significantly with the aim to have an AIDS-free generation in Africa and to scale up the global response to the pandemic. In each case, G8 commitments have given impetus to worldwide efforts to strengthen health systems, increase access to medicines, expand resources, and they have generated high levels of media and public attention.
The G8 focus on health in past years led directly to the strengthening of UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS) and to the establishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which to date has obtained pledges of $9 billion to prevent, diagnose and treat these diseases. The support for the global response to AIDS demonstrated by G8 leaders has been, and continues to be crucial to getting ahead of the pandemic. Great strides have been made globally in increasing access to HIV treatment and prevention services, but the pandemic continues to outpace the response. We must build on the commitments made last year to make universal access to HIV treatment, prevention and care a reality.
Consistent with previous G8 actions in recent years, Russia made infectious diseases, along with energy and education, one of three priority areas at the 2006 G8 Summit in St. Petersburg. Holding the G8 presidency provided President Vladimir Putin a unique opportunity to take the lead in consolidating existing G8 commitments on AIDS and other infectious diseases.
In advance of the St. Petersburg summit, the leaders of the four key health policy and financing organizations -- the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization -- jointly welcomed the focus on infectious diseases and urged the G8 leaders to continue their commitments to improving the health and lives of people around the world.
To turn the tide of the global AIDS pandemic, countries must set specific targets for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. There must be evidence-based, itemized plans that are funded through increased national and international resource allocations. Human resource capacity must be strengthened to enable health, education and social systems to mount an effective response. Access to comprehensive, tested and effective prevention, treatment and care services must be scaled up. Remaining barriers related to pricing, tariffs and trade, regulatory policy and research and development must be removed to speed up access to affordable quality HIV prevention commodities such as male and female condoms, medicines and diagnostics. Together, these measures constitute a needed shift from crisis management to a strategic and sustainable response grounded in solid political commitment.
Gender inequality, discrimination (in particular stigma based on race or sexual orientation), social exclusion and denial of human rights and fundamental freedoms fuel the AIDS epidemic, and must be fully addressed by governments and by all levels of society. Key measures include the review, amendment and enforcement of legislation to protect and promote the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS and those particularly vulnerable to HIV infection. Given the fact that HIV epidemics in many countries are mainly driven by widespread intravenous drug use, mostly involving young people, comprehensive drug use prevention and harm-reduction programs -- including needle exchange and substitution therapy for injecting drug users living with HIV -- are necessary.
We welcome Russia's decision to include infectious diseases on the agenda for the 2006 summit, a decision that led G8 leaders on Sunday to affirm previous commitments to achieve the global targets set by the historic United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS in 2001 and its Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS. At a high level meeting in New York last month, the General Assembly adopted a political declaration on HIV/AIDS, following a review of progress and remaining gaps, which calls for stepped up action in the fight against AIDS.
Russia's support for a solid G8 commitment on AIDS should be welcomed by the global community and should also provide critical impetus to Russia's own response to the epidemic. Russia faces the largest HIV epidemic in Europe, with more than 350,000 officially registered cases. However, as Putin pointed out at a meeting of the presidium of the State Council that addressed AIDS in April, the real number is much higher. UNAIDS and the World Health Organization estimate that the number Russians infected with HIV is 940,000, close to 1 percent of the population. Urgent action is required. Notable progress has been made: Within the framework of the National Health Project there have been substantial allocations for prevention, diagnostics and treatment of HIV and hepatitis -- 3.1 billion rubles (more than $100 million) for this year alone. In 2007, this amount will be more than doubled. More is needed, and implementation of the action points adopted by the State Council, including improved coordination and expanded prevention, treatment and care services, will be critical to stem the epidemic.
In the lead-up to the St. Petersburg summit, G8 health ministers met in Moscow in late April to discuss current global health challenges, with specific focus on avian flu, AIDS and tuberculosis. In a commendable move, the executive director of UNAIDS and the director general of the WHO were invited to join parts of the discussions along with representatives of the Global Fund and the World Bank. In a communique, the health ministers recalled the Gleneagles commitments to universal access and called on UNAIDS and its cosponsoring agencies, including UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank, to provide reports and updates on global progress towards this goal, with the aim of coming as close as possible to universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010.
The G8 leaders committed themselves in St. Petersburg on Sunday to deliver on promises made at previous summits. The time to reverse the spread of AIDS is now. This is the time to step up the fight against the epidemic; the personal engagement, commitment and support of each of the G8 leaders will be critical to overcoming the greatest global challenge of our generation. We know what it takes to turn the tide against AIDS.
Bertil Lindblad is UNAIDS representative in Russia.
G8 set plan of action against infectious diseases
16/ 07/ 2006
STRELNA (near St. Petersburg), July 16 (RIA Novosti) - A Group of Eight summit set a plan of action against major infectious diseases Sunday.
The leaders of Russia, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, the United States, Canada and Japan are discussing the fight against infectious diseases, as well as energy security and education, at their current three-day meeting outside St. Petersburg.
On day two of the meeting, the G8 leaders adopted a joint statement on HIV/AIDS, avian influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and other deadly diseases that undermine "global development and the well-being of the world's population."
They highlighted the importance of "a vigorous response to the threat of infectious diseases," the main cause of deaths throughout the world, but particularly in developing countries, where the vast majority suffers from poverty and malnutrition and where medical treatment remains out of reach for many.
The G8 action plan to curb major infectious diseases covers international cooperation in surveillance and monitoring, intensifying scientific research and public awareness campaigns, and providing technical assistance and training to improve access to prevention and treatment for those in need. It also focuses on support for international organizations working to mitigate health consequences of emergencies and on promotion of efforts to increase worldwide production capacities for vaccines and antiviral drugs.
The leaders of the world's richest nations said efforts against HIV would remain a top priority. They reiterated their commitment to containing the spread of the virus that causes AIDS, as called for in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and to providing universal access to comprehensive prevention programs, treatment, care and support by 2010.
They welcomed a Russian proposal to establish a regional coordination mechanism to promote HIV vaccine development in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and pledged support for the development of innovative methods of prevention, such as microbicides.
The G8 leaders also said they would work to contain outbreaks of the pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus in animals and to prevent a human influenza pandemic through global crisis management centers and international rapid response teams.
They called upon international donors to scale up contributions to efforts against infectious diseases in the third world, particularly polio and malaria. And they urged national governments "to enable developing countries without manufacturing capacity in the pharmaceutical sector to import medicines they need" and "to consider eliminating import tariffs and non-tariff barriers on medicines and medical devices to reduce further the cost of healthcare for the poor, and expand their access to effective treatments."
The G8 statement also spotlighted the destructive impact of natural disasters and industrial accidents, outlining the need for strengthened early warning systems, and prompt and coordinated relief efforts.
G8 SUMMIT Leaders call for cuts in tariffs on drugs for poor countries
07.16.2006, 09:59 AM
SAINT PETERSBURG (AFX) - G8 leaders called for cuts in tariffs on drugs in order to counter the spread of infectious diseases in developing countries.
'We encourage governments around the world to consider eliminating import tariffs and non-tariff barriers on medicines and medical devices, where appropriate, as a measure to reduce further the cost of healthcare for the poor, and expand their access to effective treatments,' the leaders said in a statement issued at their summit here.
They also called for new tools to promote investment in the research, development and production of vaccines, microbicides and drugs for HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and other diseases.
They noted that a number of steps have been taken to develop innovative financing mechanisms for such investments, but did not announce any new agreements on these mechanisms.
G8 governments have put forward a number of schemes to finance drug purchases in developing countries.
The US and Italy are pushing a plan for 'advanced market commitments' through which donor countries would commit to purchase vaccines for poor nations at a guaranteed price once they have been developed. France meanwhile is pressing ahead with its plan for an airline ticket tax to pay for health programmes in poor countries, and UK Chancellor Gordon Brown is continuing to push his International Finance Facility for immunisation programmes.
The G8 said it wants to stimulate the active involvement of the pharmaceutical industry in drug treatments for developing countries.
The leaders said the threat of a bird flu pandemic also demands their immediate attention.
They said they will work with pharmaceutical companies to examine options for increases in production capacities for vaccines and the development of next generation influenza vaccines. And they said they will support efforts to increase worldwide capacity for the stockpiling of antivirals.
President Vladimir Putin has made the fight against infectious diseases one of the main priorities of Russia's G8 presidency.
G8 leaders support regional HIV vaccine center proposal
16/ 07/ 2006
STRELNA, July 16 (RIA Novosti) - G8 leaders supported Sunday Russia's proposal to create a regional coordinating body in eastern Europe and Central Asia to develop an HIV vaccine.
"We remain committed to our Sea Island Summit initiative on creation of a Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, and reaffirm our determination to bring it to fruition," a statement on the fight against infectious diseases adopted at the St. Petersburg summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations said.
"In this regard, we welcome the Russian proposal to establish a regional coordination mechanism to promote HIV vaccine development in the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and call for this initiative to be carefully coordinated with the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise," the document said.
Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise is a virtual consortium to accelerate HIV vaccine development by enhancing coordination, information sharing, and collaboration globally.
The Moscow Times reports:
Focus on the violence in the Middle East and recent missile tests in North Korea were expected to overwhelm discussion of infectious diseases and education. But on Sunday, Health and Social Development Minister Mikhail Zurabov diverted much attention to his new health initiatives, saying the theme was a crucial one for Russia.
"I cannot say that we are happy with how HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, including Hepatitis B and C, are spreading in the Russian Federation," Zurabov told reporters.
Experts have been warning that Russia faces an escalating AIDS epidemic, and Putin ordered in May a 20-fold increase in AIDS-related spending this year, to more than $100 million.
Curiously, though, Sunday's statement on infectious diseases included an annex detailing individual countries' financial commitments to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis -- and showing Russia to be by far the smallest donor.
France pledged to donate 225 million euros ($285 million) to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria this year and 300 million euros in 2007. Canada pledged 250 million Canadian dollars ($221 million) to the fund's 2006-2007 projects.
Russia, by contrast, pledged to reimburse $270 million to the fund by 2010. Russia now receives millions of dollars from the fund, particularly to combat HIV/AIDS.
The G8 Research Group's Kokotsis said the country-by-country breakdown pointed to faultlines in the group.
"It has happened before but is a bit unusual," Kokotsis said. "Again, it means there isn't necessarily a consensus on values, on targets, on timelines."
Zurabov stressed Russian initiative by underlining G8 support for a Russian plan to combat bird flu in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The government has allocated $40 million to improve laboratory facilities to diagnose the disease, he said.
On education, the G8 leaders pledged to "build modern, effective education systems to meet the challenges of and fully participate in the global innovation society," as well as to promote initiatives that would help immigrants integrate more fully in their chosen homes.
Tony Blair spoke:
Africa remains on agenda with pledges on disease and schooling
Larry Elliott
The Guradian
Monday July 17, 2006

The west's leading industrial countries pledged yesterday to step up help to Africa over the next 12 months as they committed themselves to tackling infectious diseases, putting more children in school and securing reliable supplies of energy.
Despite fears that development in sub-Saharan Africa would slip off the G8's agenda after its central role at last year's Gleneagles summit, the meeting in St Petersburg admitted that more needed to be done. The summit agreed to an annual review of progress in meeting promises made a year ago, including a $50bn (27bn) increase in aid, treatment for all HIV/Aids sufferers by 2010 and help to set up an African peacekeeping force.
At yesterday's talks, Tony Blair gave an update on action taken on debt relief, aid, conflict resolution and peacekeeping since Gleneagles.
"Our goal remains a democratic, prosperous and peaceful Africa. We will continue to give our full support to African efforts to secure this," the G8 text said. Development campaigners said the G8 was merely marking time ahead of next year's gathering in Germany.
Olly Buston of Data, the lobby group set up by Bob Geldof, said: "The G8 has so far failed to follow up last year's historic commitments to Africa with timebound, concrete, costed plans for delivery. Chancellor [Angela] Merkel is now the most important person on the planet when it comes to keeping the rich world's promises to the poor. She now has a full year to pull together a grand international coalition to get every child in school and treatment for every Aids patient."
The G8 said yesterday that it would finance the Global Fund, which fights Aids, TB and malaria, in 2006 and 2007, but only Russia committed new money at the summit.
"Five years after calling for the creation of the Global Fund, the G8 has recognised we are saving a lot of lives, and we need more money to do that work - $2.1bn over the next two years," said Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund. "The Russian government has taken a large step by committing $270m to repay everything the Global Fund has spent in Russia, and continuing the programmes we started funding."
Laura Bush Dances With HIV Orphans
By Paul Burkhardt
The Associated Press
Monday, July 17, 2006.
ST. PETERSBURG -- U.S. first lady Laura Bush danced and played with HIV-infected orphans on Friday, saying it was her wish to see a generation of children free of AIDS.
The wife of the U.S. president visited the orphanage for children with HIV in St. Petersburg's outskirts after arriving for the Group of Eight summit, holding their hands and even joining them in a "chicken dance."
The Federal Pediatric AIDS Center houses about 40 abandoned children ranging from 1 to 8 years old.
AIDS physicians say the orphanage -- which offers treatment and housing for infected orphans and expectant mothers, a rarity in Russia -- is a "center of excellence" where health workers from other regions of the country are also trained in AIDS care.
Russia has one of the fastest-growing rates of HIV infection, with the UNAIDS agency putting the figure at around 900,000. Others say the total could be above 1 million -- around 1 percent of Russia's population.
After being slow to address the problem, the government has focused on AIDS awareness in the months leading up to the G8, and the problem of infectious diseases was on the agenda for the gathering of G8 leaders.
Bush told doctors she hoped to find out "what we can do to stop the transmission of AIDS to have a whole generation HIV-free, as well as be able to treat children so they can live a normal life."
"We also need to reduce the stigma associated with HIV," Bush said.
Many Russian parents abandon children with HIV because of social and economic pressure.
Experts say better coordination of treatment and social acceptance also are needed to fight the epidemic.
"These kids don't need medication -- that's not the issue," said Dr. Yevgeny Voronin, chief physician of the center.
He said the children at this center received proper medical care but that "for the last 20 years, there's been no change in the attitudes toward these children."
About 98.5 percent of HIV-positive mothers who receive treatment in time do not pass the disease on to their children, Voronin noted.
"We've singled out the most important link: the transmission from mother to child," said Dr. Aza Rakhmanova, who began diagnosing some of the first AIDS cases in Russia in 1987.
Bush echoed the call for better testing of expectant mothers.
"Part of the problem in the U.S. and here and around the world is that a lot of mothers are not tested and so they don't know during their pregnancy to start on the anti-retroviral treatment, and they deliver babies with HIV," she said.
She said she hoped for better awareness worldwide: "I think we should have an international day of testing here and around the world."
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