ROME, Italy — The non-governmental organizations who have come to Italy to look after the poor a the G-8 Summit of the eight richest countries of the world have carved out a space on the agenda for global health. The group, dominated by European NGOs, met on Monday to prepare and strategize for the Summit, which begins Wednesday in L’Aquila.
It was not obvious to me that this would be the case just by looking at the written agenda, which was made up of four distinct sessions — Food, World Economy and Finance, Public Goods and Climate Change. But global health and water and sanitation (along with education) comprised Public Goods and were well represented by Victoria Kimotho of the African Research & Medical Foundation (who emphasized health system strengthening) and Steve Cockburn of End Water Poverty UK (who expressed his disappointment at how the water and sanitation section of the final communique has been “watered down”).
The big story to emerge on global health is the fact that a commitment to “the sexual and reproductive rights of women” is back in the language of the G-8 after eight years of opposition by the Bush Administration. What is not yet clear is whether it will be in the final summit communique or an obscure supporting annex. I intend to find out and get back to you later this week.
On Sunday, a delegation from GCAP — the Global Call to Action Against Poverty which is coordianting the actions of the NGOs here — had a personal meeting with Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi and delivered a letter from GCAP and the G8 Working Group calling for the G-8 countries to:
- Fully fund the Global Fund to Fight HIV-AIDS, TB and Malaria;
- Align the G-8’s aid for health with the developing country governments’ health strategies;
- Act upon the Kampala Declaration to reach the target of 4.1 health workers per 1,000, thus hiring the 4.25 million health workers needed immediately;
- To deliver, as agreed at the G-8 in Heiligendamm in 2007 and reaffirmed in Toyko in 2008, $60 billion by 2011 to fight pandemics as well as $1.5 billion to improve maternal, newborn and child health and scale up this support for an additional $10.2 billion per year.
Prime Minister Berlusconi offered to circulate this letter to the other seven heads of state at the upcoming summit.
The Global Health Council is one of only four U.S. NGOs represented at the G8. The others are Interaction, Family Care International (a Council member that focuses on maternal health) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (which focuses on climate change). This is the first time the Council has participated in the G-8.
After a media stunt this morning at Piazza del Popolo this morning, we all head for the Summit site at L’Aquila, about three hours east of Rome by road. My next blog will be from there.