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G8 commitments to infectious disease can improve global health security


17 July 2006

Today, the Group of Eight vowed to improve the ways in which the world cooperates on surveillance for infectious diseases, including improving transparency by all countries in sharing information. The G8 also committed to continued support to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and to eradication of polio.

The World Health Organization (WHO) heralds the focus on infectious disease at the G8 Summit, and the detailed health commitments in the outcome document. "Today the G8 spoke together on the essential need to tackle infectious diseases, because of their health, social, security and economic impacts," said Dr Anders Nordström, acting Director-General of the WHO. "The commitments are detailed and specific, and represent another step forward in G8 leadership on public health."

Dr Nordström led a senior WHO team at the Summit to contribute to discussions on infectious disease and he addressed G8 leaders, in the presence of the Heads of State or Governments of Brazil, China, Congo, Finland, India, Kazakhstan, Mexico and South Africa, and invited UN leaders. He underscored priorities for infectious disease, including the need to:

  • Sustain the political and financial momentum for scaling up against the major infectious diseases and basic health services: HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, polio and immunization.
  • Manage new disease outbreaks and threats - including a potential pandemic influenza outbreak.
  • Improve access to existing and new drugs and vaccines though expanded markets and increased affordability.
  • Ensure there are enough motivated health workers in health centres and hospitals and address the current four-million health worker shortage. The biggest shortages are in the poorest countries where the need is greatest.
  • Invest in innovative financing. The United Kingdom's support for the Immunization Financing Facility, and the France/Chile/Brazil/Norway plan to fund HIV/TB and malaria drugs through airline ticket taxes are very promising.

The 12-page health outcome document includes G8 country's commitments to: strengthen the global network for surveillance and monitoring; increase global preparedness for a human influenza pandemic; combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; eradicate polio; make progress on measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases; ensure access to prevention, treatment and care including through research, the use of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) flexibilities and strengthened health systems; and to address the health consequences of natural and man-made disasters.

The Russian Federation carried on the G8 tradition of supporting polio eradication. The Russian Federation made a specific funding pledge for polio eradication, committing US$18 million to the programme, as did the United Kingdom in Gleneagles in 2005.

For more information contact:

Christine McNab
Communications Officer
WHO/Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 4688
Mobile phone: +41 79 254 6815
E-mail: mcnabc@who.int

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