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From Genoa 2001 to Kananaskis 2002

Issue Performance Assessment
Health and Infectious Diseases

Overall Grade: B-

Objective 1: Increased Support of the Global Health Fund
Grade: C

In the G8 Africa Action Plan, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the G8 countries commit to continue supporting the Global Health Fund. The Fund was launched at the Genoa Summit with much fanfare in 2001 to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and received initial pledges of $1.3 billion US. However, it has taken some time to make the Fund an operational reality and the first projects it would support were only chosen in April 2002, bearing in mind that there are limited funds and project planning is essential to the success of the Fund's objectives.

At Kananaskis, the G8 recommitted to supporting the Fund and increasing the effectiveness of its operations. Within this framework, the G8 pledged to support efforts to increase Africa's access to, as well as enhance the capacity to participate in, the Fund.

While the Fund has yet to see any results with which its effectiveness may be evaluated, it is clear that some effort to combat these infectious diseases must be made. There was no clear commitment to increase the G8 contribution to the Fund, and indeed, it was not expected - certainly not to the $7-10 billion US per year range that was called for last year. Nevertheless, it is somewhat disappointing to not see an increased collective target value for monetary pledges.

Continued G8 support of the Global Health Fund with a particular focus on Africa merits a score of C.

Objective 2: Widened Mandate of Health Aid/Intervention Regarding Infectious Diseases
Grade: B

As Africa was the focus of the Kananaskis Summit, any comprehensive plan dealing with supporting African development, had to have included serious efforts to deal with the crippling infectious diseases crises experienced in parts of Africa. Indeed, the implications of infectious diseases, their prevention, treatment, education and the capacity for the health infrastructure to deal with then effectively had to be addressed.

Through the G8 Africa Action Plan, the G8 continue to pledge ongoing work with the pharmaceutical industry, affected countries and civil society to provide affordable and effective treatments for diseases. This is an ongoing initiative that may or may not achieve results. Far more promising is the pledge to support African countries in promoting more effective and cost-effective health interventions to the most vulnerable sectors of society.

Beyond efforts to use the existing framework provided by the Global Health Fund, the Africa Action Plan commits to "supporting African efforts to build sustainable health systems in order to deliver effective disease interventions..." (VI, 6.2). The G8 have pledged to help African countries' public sectors strengthen monitoring of the provision of health care services. In addition, the G8 have agreed to support and encourage their own health organizations to partner with those in African countries. Building these contacts and partnerships will serve to strengthen the effective capacity of African health care systems and allow African health care systems to move closer towards becoming sustainable. Research in eradicating infectious diseases prevalent in Africa will continue.

The G8 have taken on a wider view with respect to other diseases in Africa. In addition to combating AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, the G8 have committed to eradicating polio in Africa by 2005. The G8 have also pledged to support public-private partnerships for the immunization of children and the elimination of health deficiencies in Africa. This is certainly an increase in the scope of battle against diseases, though it lacks aggressive commitment.

While these are commendable and well-focused commitments, efforts tend to exclude other regions of the world that also face daunting health crises. However, given the range of problems facing Africa, the continuation of programs as well as the expansion of the fight against infectious diseases, increased partnerships and linkages, and increased research are commendable given that health was not perceived to be the top issue at the Summit. Such a comprehensive plan in attacking the health problems in Africa is a clear sign that the G8 are looking at ways to address the situation, rather than simply throwing money at it. Addressing the root causes to the health problems and developing the structural capacity of health systems to maintain the health of the population indicate lasting and viable development goals, as opposed to quick fixes. All measures would also serve to promote peace, security, trade and investment and prosperity; indeed, these issues cannot be separated.

A comprehensive plan to target long-term underlying issues and health infrastructure for Africa merits a score of B.

Prepared by Serena Yoon, Dan Ben-Aron and Oksana Werbowy
University of Toronto G8 Research Group
July 2002

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