Global health advocates at the recent Group of Eight summit conference have issued a scorecard giving the participating world leaders poor marks for their action – and inaction – on worldwide health needs, particularly those of women and children.
On a complex ten-point matrix that related the content of G-8 statements and pledges with financing and concrete steps, the Global Health Committee gave the leaders a B-minus for substance and a D for finance, for an overall grade of C-minus.
"I'm now wondering if we weren't too easy on them," said Jill Sheffield, former president of Family Care International, who was one of only 100 non-governmental organization representatives allowed to take part in the July 7-9 G-8 meeting in Hokkaido, Japan.
Health policy advocates at the three-day conference, organized as the Global Health Committee, gave the G-8 an A-minus for establishing a follow-up mechanism that will track progress toward global health commitments and a B-plus for putting global health on the permanent G-8 agenda. "But these commitments are not funded, so the question is whether they will actually happen," Sheffield said.
"Japan showed its leadership in trying to ensure G-8 accountability in the global health area and we commend that leadership," said Sumie Ishii of the Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning, a key organizing group. "We expect the G-8 leaders to know that we in civil society are watching every step they make, and this hope must not be turned into disappointment."
The group gave Bs to the G-8 for language recognizing the importance of maternal, newborn and child health; for setting clear targets for numbers of skilled birth attendants; and for mentioning the need for preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Bs were also awarded for the G-8's affirmation that it is urgent to provide more health workers worldwide and to address rising rates of co-infection of HIV and tuberculosis. However, all these affirmations received Ds and Fs for funding commitments, leading to overall grades of C or D.
"Real financial commitment was lacking everywhere, and the grade for funding maternal and child health was F. They completely ignored the urgent need for an additional $10.2 billion per year for that, even after noting correctly that the MDGs on maternal and child health are lagging behind all the other MDGs," Sheffield exclaimed.
The G-8 got Ds in content for failure to include any reference to the worldwide need for universal reproductive health care tin their final communiqué, and for their failure to denounce travel restrictions on persons living with HIV.
To view the full scorecard, click here.