When I arrived in Germany on Sunday I learned from a report in the local press that the security fence around the venue of this year’s three-day G8 Summit cost close to $17 million.
I promptly sent a text message to tell Michael, my colleague back home. He was not amused: “Couldn’t those people take their summit to another venue where they wouldn’t need to construct a new barricade? Did they have to waste that money?”
I asked why he was concerned – after all, it wasn’t his government spending that money. His response was humbling:
“I lost my uncle to AIDS because he couldn’t get started on the life-saving drugs due to the bureaucracy... They should have donated that money to one of the countries most affected by this pandemic.”
While organisers of the G8 found it right to spend millions of dollars on a fence, in Africa the same amount would have helped prolong the lives of over 100,000 AIDS patients by providing them with a year’s supply of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs).
According to the World Health Organisation sub-Saharan Africa has the greatest number of people on treatment and the second-highest rate of treatment coverage among those who need it. But the region still accounts for 70 per cent of the world’s unmet need for treatment.