This afternoon the G8 leaders announced their communiqué on climate change – but healthcare funding is still proving to be a sticking point. Walter Otis Tapfumaneyi of the Panos Global AIDS Programme is not surprised.
It never rains but it pours for Africa, and the light at the end of the tunnel always seems to get dimmer because the world’s richest countries insist on making the tunnel even longer.
As if slavery and colonialism were not enough, Africa today is still being looted in the name of unfair trade, brain drain, conflict and corruption. And it even has to pay for crimes it has not committed.
Take climate change, for example, which today the G8 made a series of announcements about. The G8 countries represent 13 per cent of the world’s population but emit 40 per cent of its greenhouse gases.
Africa has hardly contributed to global warming but, according to this year’s IPCC report, Africa is the continent most vulnerable to climate change.
By 2020, yields from rain-fed agriculture in some countries could decrease by as much as 50 per cent, exacerbating malnutrition and food insecurity, while a three degree temperature increase could leave up to 1.8 billion more people facing uncertainty over their water sources.
Climate change, however, isn’t grabbing the headlines because of its potential to harm people in Africa, but because it also affects rich countries. HIV and AIDS, on the other hand, are slipping down the agenda. The number one enemy of the African continent is barely of any concern to the G8 countries, it seems.
Not only has the promised aid money to fight the pandemic not yet materialised, but there is a real danger that the little that has been pledged will be reduced even further by the end of the G8 summit in Helligendamm.
The situation is made even more depressing by the fact that many of the influential civil society representatives I’ve spoken to at this G8 appear to have lost interest in HIV and AIDS.
At the launch of the Alternative G8 Summit earlier this week, funding for HIV and AIDS wasn’t even mentioned. And when it did feature on the schedule, it was often lumped together with other sessions.
Who then will be responsible for putting more pressure on the G8 nations when their own taxpayers don’t see HIV and AIDS in Africa as a priority? And why is HIV and AIDS no longer a priority to them?
Because of good health systems, where most people have access to treatment and good nutrition, the pandemic has long been brought under control in much of the Western world.
Africa’s problems, it seems, will not command the sympathy of the world’s powerful unless their own comfort is also threatened.