Blog post

G8: KEEPING PROMISES? Health

3 min read
Oct 24, 2013

Health

Health has been the focus of a large number of G8 commitments, and the achievement is rated as good. In fact, there has been a lot of progress over the past decades. From 1990 to 2011, there have been:

  • a 41% decline in child mortality,
  • near 50% decline in maternal deaths,
  • a 30% fall in malaria deaths, with 1.1 million deaths averted,
  • a 41% fall in tuberculosis deaths.

Other striking results are:

  • 24% fewer people became infected with HIV/AIDS in 2011 than in 2001. In low and middle income countries, the figure is as high as 50%,
  • since 1988 the number of cases of polio has decreased by over 99%, and polio-endemic countries have declined from 125 to 3,
  • between 2000 and 2011, the percentage of households in sub-Saharan Africa owning at least one bednet rose from 3 to 53%,
  • in the same period, global coverage in measles vaccination rose from 72% to 84% and estimated measles deaths decreased by 71%.

How do these advances connect to G8 intervention?

The G8 supports health system strengthening through a variety of programmes. The biggest commitment - to provide 60 billion in funding to fight infectious diseases and improve health systems between 2008 and 2012 - was 80% delivered by 2011, so it is on track to be fulfilled. In 2005, the G8 pledged to mobilise support for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. So far, these countries have provided almost ¾ of its funding - $13.5 billion. The Fund has provided:

  • AIDS treatment for 4.2 million people,
  • anti-Tuberculosis treatment for 9.7 million people,
  • 310 million insecticide-treated nets,
  • support for health-system strengthening.

G8 countries have also provided support for:

  • the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), with a pledge of $4.3 billion. Since 2000, GAVI has helped 72 low-income countries immunise 370 million children and avert more than 5.5 million deaths,
  • the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. In April 2013, $4 billion was pledged to the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2014.
  • the development of new vaccines, microbicides and drugs for AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and virus research. G8 funding has increased by 22% since 2005, support for Product Development Partnerships has grown 77%.
  • maternal and child health, with $5 billion additional funding pledged in 2010 and support for initiatives such as the Every Woman Every Child movement.
  • the development of treatment for neglected tropical diseases, with an increase in funding of 44% between 2007 and 2011, and a commitment to the control and elimination of ten priority neglected tropical diseases was also made last year.

But many important challenges remain. The central problem seems to be the lack of a qualified health workforce in developing countries. The improvement in this area has been negligible. Of the 57 countries below the World Health Organisation threshold of 2.3 health workers per 1000 people, 19 countries have seen an improvement, and 18 countries have had a decrease in density of health workers (there isn't data from the remaining 20). This is a critical situation: without health workers in place, new vaccines or treatments cannot reach many of the people who need them.

Also, we must not forget that AIDS and tuberculosis continue to be big problems. 7 million people in need of anti-retrovirals still lack access to these; and there were still 8.7 million cases of tuberculosis in 2011, with 1.4 million deaths. With the latter disease, there is the added risk of multi-drug-resistance TB.

For these reasons, Oxfam considers the report to be overly generous in this area.

Image courtesy of UN