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G8 Asked to Keep Promise on AIDS Funding


Next week, G8 leaders will hold their annual summit in Hokkaido, Japan. Some observers say with climate change, the food crisis and soaring energy costs, leaders may pay less attention to other issues affecting developing countries.

For example, the World AIDS Campaign is calling on the United States, Britain, Canada, Russia, Italy, France, Germany and Japan not to renege on their commitments. The campaign represents 200 civil society organizations in more than 60 countries.

Marcel Van Soest is the executive director of the World AIDS Campaign. From the Netherlands, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about why he thinks the G8 may scale back its promises on HIV/AIDS.

"Especially the draft communiqués that came out last week that were also leaked to the Financial Times. They had an article…referring to what would be in the draft communiqué for the G8. And that was abandoning the pledges they had made in Gleneagles (Scotland) in 2005," he says.

One of those pledges called for near universal access to AIDS treatment for all those in need by the year 2010. Van Soest says, "That's true…. At the beginning of this year we had reached almost three million on treatment, which is less than a third that are urgently in need to be on treatment…. We still have a long way to go. And the progress that is made is very steady, but it's not enough. It has to be much more exponential growth and scale up of treatment. That was the promise in 2005. It was also clear what that would require from all the donor governments. And that would require quite a huge pledge for money…. They talked about it, but never really committed to that money."

He says that one reason G8 leaders may be hesitant on HIV/AIDS treatment funding is the 2010 deadline, which he calls "very tight."

Also, with climate change, energy and food prices on the agenda, some believe HIV /AIDS might receive less attention. Van Soest says, "It definitely is competing with each other and everybody understands that…. On the other hand there have been huge commitments made by all the rich donor countries through the Paris Declaration on AIDS Effectiveness. And there is this commitment to go to point-seven (percent) of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per country to spend on developing countries."

He says that if all the rich nations did that there would be enough money to pay for all the programs. Over 100 ministers and other officials endorsed the Paris Declaration in March 2005, before the Gleneagles summit.

The World AIDS Campaign is also calling for an official monitoring mechanism to track the promises countries make regarding HIV/AIDS and report on whether the talk matches their actions and donations.

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