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Global Health Needs ‘Bailout,’ Says Doctors Without Borders Official

  • Peter Clottey

People walk down a stairway at the G20 press center in Cannes, France on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011.

People walk down a stairway at the G20 press center in Cannes, France on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011.

The summit for the Group of 20 industrialized nations is scheduled to begin in Cannes, France, Thursday.

France and Germany have proposed financial transaction tax (FTT) that is expected to be discussed at the meeting. Doctors Without Borders (MSF), an international medical humanitarian organization, says the proposal could help save millions of lives if a percentage of the tax revenues are allocated to global health.

Sharonann Lynch, senior HIV/AIDS Policy Advisor of the humanitarian agency, called on the G20 nations to do more to help the most vulnerable in the world.

“Do not forget some of the poorest people on the planet and some of the most challenging health crises facing the world today and the opportunity that we have to have a transformative impact if we can raise new revenues in order to scale up some of these live saving health interventions,” said Lynch. “It is time that global health got its bailout.”

Experts estimate that the proposed FTT tax could raise about 55 billion Euros ($75 billion) per year.

“What we see where we work in over 60 countries are many gaps that could otherwise be filled if we have the right health intervention that could be scaled up,” said Lynch. “A financial transaction tax would give us the predictable and sustainable funding source that is needed now more than ever.”

On the issue of the proposed tax will work and how the proceeds could be distributed to developing world countries or projects, Lynch said there are examples that could be followed to ensure people who need health interventions most receive them in a timely manner.

“One example is the global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB [tuberculosis] and Malaria. Right now we know the global fund needs $ 4.5 billion in order to attract and fund proposals over the next two years,” said Lynch. “There is [another example] that already shows us that revenue from taxes can help with global health, and help to pay for some of the needed drugs and diagnosis, we know we need on the ground.”

In its latest report called 5 Lives, MSF offers a profile of some who are benefitting from lifesaving interventions in Africa. Their stories show the importance of new technologies and new treatments to add weight to the recent call for a financial transaction tax to be used for health.