The report was launched by Action for Global Health, of which the International HIV/AIDS Alliance is a member, on World Health Day (7 April) in seven European capitals.
The report says donor countries are $39 billion a year short of their commitments to increase their aid and in particular to double aid to Africa. None of the five Action for Global Health member states (France, Germany, Italy, UK and Spain) has made any plan regarding the 8 billion Euro gap needed to meet the EU commitments in 2010.
Meanwhile, the current financial crisis is expected to contribute to an additional 200,000-400,000 children dying before their fifth birthday.
In sub-Saharan Africa it is estimated that reduced economic growth will cost the 390 million people already living in extreme poverty a 20% reduction in each person’s income, tipping millions into destitution.
Marielle Hart, from the Alliance, one of the report’s authors said, “The world is facing a financial crisis of a magnitude that hasn’t been seen in decades. While the effects are being felt and debated across the developed world, the likely impact on developing country economies is far from being heard.
“Health in Crisis provides a set of clear recommendations. We need to speed up the response to the global health crisis with more aid but it has to be more effectively spent. Governments urgently need to meet their longstanding aid commitments.”
At the report launch in London, Professor Alistair McGuire from the London School of Economics (LSE) highlighted that the World Bank have reported 94 out of 116 low income countries are abandoning or downplaying their health targets. He told the audience that when an economic crisis hit Mexico in 1995, mortality increased by 69%.
Jenny Borden from Interact Worldwide said there had been too much focus on process rather than accountability and demonstrable impact. She warned there was a danger that the economic crisis would reverse what slow progress has been made. “The economic crisis should be used as an opportunity to do things differently,” she said. She highlighted the need to reform international funding institutions to make them more inclusive and democratic.
Peter Colenso is Head of Human Development at the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID). The UK government is acknowledged for its leadership on development issues. Colenso stressed that the UK remains committed to its targets and is working to get others to keep their commitments.
He outlined that the UK and others are exploring ways of finding additional funds for health spending through the High Level Taskforce of Innovative Financing for Health Systems Strengthening, under the auspices of the International Health Partnerships+ initiative. Colenso stressed that this would be additional funds not a substitute. He praised the report and its ‘excellent’ recommendations, saying that he would be happy to sign up to them.
Rotimi Sankore from the African Public Health Alliance highlighted how far there is to go in developing countries for all people to be able to access a decent health system. He emphasised the need for African governments to firstly meet their commitments and said that IMF policies must be dealt with in order to empower African governments to do this.
“The one thing that has clearly come out of this meeting is the continued need to fight for investment not in spite of the economic crisis but because of it. This new report needs to be used to continue this fight,” said Alvaro Bermejo, Executive Director of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, who chaired the event.