Japan — A growing coalition of civil society organizations is petitioning the G-8 industrialized countries to take strong action at their July summit meeting of world leaders to redeem earlier pledges of greater investment in basic health care worldwide.
The agenda for the July 7-9 session in Japan, includes global health, especially maternal and newborn health, for the first time. The petition from the ad hoc Global Civil Society Concerning Global Health, entitled "We Can No Longer Wait," urges the leaders of the eight countries to make health a permanent agenda item and monitor progress, to strengthen health systems and raise the number of health workers worldwide, and to increase their worldwide health investments by US$10.2 billion per year.
The petition cites commitments for policy change and investment made by earlier leaders at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994; the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995; and the Millennium Conference in 2000, which resulted in the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
"We can no longer wait, as millions of lives are lost as the financial commitments slowly trickle in at a speed that will make the attainment of all health goals impossible," the petition said. "This is the last chance for the G-8 leaders to fulfill the mountains of promises and commitments they have made to the world….We reject vague promises to strengthen health systems that are not backed up by firm targets and adequate and sustained funding."
The four-page petition asks the G-8 leaders to "reflect the reality that women and girls are especially affected by initiatives to improve global health, and that a commitment to gender equity is integral to success." It calls for recruitment of 4.3 million health workers by 2015, a recommitment to the goal of universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care by 2010; "a concrete action plan" to attain MDGs on reducing child and maternal mortality; and immediate steps to ensure adequate world food security.
The 32 organizations signing the petition include: the Global Health Committee of the 2008 Japan G-8 Summit NGO Forum and its 15 Japanese NGOs; Canada's Interagency Coalition of AIDS and Development; the Health Global Access Project (GAP) of the United States; the U.S. Physicians for Human Rights; the International Planned Parenthood Federation; and the Open Society Institute, among others.