General Articles

35th G8 Summit: Advocacy Groups urge G8 leaders to Strengthen HIV/AIDS Programs and to Invest in Women’s Health

The 35th G8 Summit was held in L’Aquila, Italy from July 8–10, 2009.[i] The G8 group represents the eight nation states with the largest economies and includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. [ii] Leaders from all G8 members attended the Summit.

Health was a dominant theme of the Summit, with discussions revolving around topics such as strengthening healthcare systems and reducing infant mortality and death during childbirth.[iii] The G8 leaders, building off of the goals made during the G8 Summit in 2001, sought to continue their support by funding efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.[iv]
Though progress has been made by the G8 leaders in addressing these health-related issues in the past, HIV/AIDS programs remain highly underfunded and inadequate attention has been directed towards women’s health. Advocacy groups are urging the G8 leaders to take further action to address the spread of HIV in developing nations, to invest more in women’s health, and to achieve the goals outlined in previous Summit meetings of the G8.
Fifty-six female parliamentarians from Asia, Africa, Europe, and G8 countries urged the G8 leaders to allocate money towards women’s health this year.[v]  In a letter addressed to the G8, the parliamentarians stated that “investing in women’s health as part of aid policies has to be considered a priority, as it will give to the poorer countries a better chance to solve the crisis in a prospect of development."[vi] At last year’s Summit, the G8 leaders had agreed to strengthen health systems, but did not specifically allocate funds for women’s health.[vii] “Sexual and reproductive diseases clearly represent a huge economic loss to developing economies,” wrote the parliamentarians, “They reduce female productivity by 20 percent.”[viii]
Many advocates agree; investing in the health and rights of women will support global economic recovery.[ix] "If we invest in women, many problems will be solved…," says Sylvia Borren, co-chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), “…letting women suffer from the food crisis and the lack of health means not to build the fundamentals of sustainable economy.”[x]
The global economic crisis has led advocates to question how the G8 leaders will aid developing nations, especially in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Representatives of the world’s biggest developing economies (G5) – Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and South Africa, joined the G8 summit this year to discuss the role that the G8 leaders will play in aiding the developing nations.[xi]
Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, expressed concern that the wealthy nations of the world, which had previously agreed to aid Africa in halting the HIV/AIDS epidemic, may withdraw their funds.[xii] "Before this financial crisis, the world came together and this solidarity helped put more than 3.5 million people on treatment," said Sidibe during the African Union Summit in Sirte, Libya, "I am very concerned because … the leaders of this world have the political obligation, or responsibility to really fix the market but they have also the moral obligation to not abandon those … people on treatment and not to break the hope of the 14 million (AIDS) orphans."[xiii]
Unfortunately, even before the global economic crisis took center stage, the G8 leaders had been failing to meet the goals that they set for themselves at the G8 Summit in 2005, where they “promised to provide universal access to anti-HIV drugs in Africa by 2010.”[xiv] According to non-governmental HIV/AIDS advocacy organizations, the G8 states have greatly underfunded this initiative and will not reach their target in 2010.[xv] As Sidibe explains, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is “$4 billion short of the amount it needed to fund AIDS projects it was already running or had committed to financing.”[xvi] In addition, according to an annual report created by One Campaign, the G8 nations were “collectively off course” in meeting their 2005 goal of delivering more than doubling the aid to Africa through 2010.[xvii]  
Though much progress has been made by the G8 leaders, more work needs to be done to effectively combat the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and more attention needs to be given to women’s health.As Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and global ambassador for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuburculosis and Malaria, stated, “We have made inspiring and dramatic progress, but this journey has just begun… and there is much more still to do."[xviii]


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[ii] The Summit, Summit 2009, accessed 24 July 2009, <>.

[iii] Ibid.                                     

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Sabina Zaccaro, “G8: ‘Just Invest in Women,’” Inter Press Service, (8 July 2009), accessed 9 July 2009, <>.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] “G8 Addresses Developing Nation Economic Assistance, Reforming African Aid, Establishing Farming Investment, Food Security, Climate Change,” US Global Health Policy, (9 July 2009), accessed 9 July 2009, <>.

[xii] “UNAIDS Director Calls For G8 To Come Through On HIV/AIDS Funding Pledges,” Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, (2 July 2009), accessed 13 July 2009, <>.

[xiii] Ibid.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] Ibid.

[xvii] “G8 off Track On Aid Commitments To Africa; France, Italy Responsible for 80% of Shortfall, Report says,” Medical News Today, (12 June 2009), accessed 16 July 2009, <>.

[xviii] “Climate Change, Hunger, Economy G8 Summit Top Priorities; France’s First Lady Calls On G8 To Expand On Global Health ‘Achievements,’” Medical News Today, (9 July 2009), accessed 13 July 2009, <>.