May 22, 2003
The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, P.C., M.P.
Room 309-S, Centre Block
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Dear Prime Minister Chrétien,
By latest United Nations estimates, HIV/AIDS will have killed 46 million people before the end of this decade (278 million by 2050). The terrifying death toll taken by the global pandemic, with over 95 percent of its casualties presented in the world's poorest countries, calls into question the very meaning of human development and civilization. That we have harnessed the marvels of modern science, set foot into the cosmos, and designed treatments or cures for serious afflictions, enabling us to preserve and enhance human life, yet at the same time are variably unable or unwilling to put this knowledge and passion in service of those in greatest need worldwide, points to our greatest collective failure.
As representatives of the world's wealthiest and most powerful nations, you and your peers at the helm of the G8, along with your ministerial representatives, are graced with the authority and opportunity to effect the macro-economic and political change necessary to put an end to these dichotomies. You hold the power to affect processes of trade, finance, and social policy in ways that hold the potential to better reflect our shared humanity.
Again, from June 1-3, 2003, at the annual summit of G8 leaders in Evian, France, you are presented with an unparalleled opportunity to demonstrate Canada's commitment to fostering development, reciprocity, and peace throughout the world. In regard to the global devastation currently being wrought by HIV/AIDS, particularly on the African continent, you are endowed with unmatched power to create positive change by placing front and center discussion around the requirements to end preventable death and suffering that result from this disease and the poverty, financial debilitation, and social unrest that engender it. The world will be observing in order to determine whether you embrace this urgent challenge or turn away from this greatest of responsibilities.
In view of the unique opportunity for dialogue and negotiation afforded by the 2003 G8 Summit, we the undersigned call on you to place concerns for prevention, care, and treatment of HIV/AIDS at the fore of your discussions surrounding sustainable international development.
In particular, we urge you to come to consensus with your peers on the need to guarantee adequate support for mechanisms such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria that can enable governments and public healthcare officials dedicated to turning the tide of the global pandemic to effectively do so. We urge you to support the myriad clinicians, public health experts, and AIDS Service Organizations within your borders who are conducting HIV prevention and care both domestically and internationally, heeding their experience and recommendations in determining domestic and foreign policy related to HIV/AIDS. And, we urge you to cast your eyes toward the hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide who both individually and as communities will remain overwhelmed by disease, poverty, and social debilitation unless your compassion and commitment to stemming HIV/AIDS is considered within a broader development assistance program such as that conveyed to you in April 2003 by the organization DATA in a series of recommendations entitled the DATA Deal: An Emergency G7 Package for Africa. This document, attached again for you here, presents solid and comprehensive recommendations around debt relief, support for disease control and prevention, and trade regulation that are critical in effectively fighting HIV/AIDS not only in Africa, but in all resource-limited settings.
We would add to it that the recommendation of a debt for healthcare spending swap advocated by DATA in the case of Nigeria be examined by G8 countries as a general strategy for addressing HIV/AIDS in resource-limited countries. Further reference may be made to guiding sources such as the Africa's Right to Health Campaign led by Africa Action, in your future effort to craft HIV/AIDS relief plans that incorporate disease prevention and control into broad development assistance programs.
As G8 leaders meet early next month, the discussion undertaken and agreements that are reached will be recorded as either a sign of true commitment to ending the suffering and devastation that are currently the lot of much of this world's population, or a clear sign of apathy and disconcern. May your participation and voice tip the scales toward the former.
Respectfully and in solidarity to stop HIV/AIDS,
ACT UP/Cleveland (United States)
ACT UP/Paris (France)
Africa Action (United States)
Africa Consultants International (Senegal)
AIDS Orphans (Uganda)
Amani Medical Research Centre (Tanzania)
ARCAT - Association pour la Recherche, la Communication
et les Actions pour l'accès aux Traitements (France)
Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (United States)
BEBASHI - Blacks Educating Blacks About Sexual Health Issues (United States)
Brown University Center for AIDS Research (United States)
Cameroun National Association for Family Welfare (Cameroon)
Canadian AIDS Society (Canada)
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (Canada)
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (Senegal)
CCM -Doctors for Developing Countries (Italy)
COOPI- Cooperazione Internazionale (Italy)
Concern Women: Action for Peace (Sudan)
Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research (United States)
Forum Cameroun (Cameroon)
Fundación PROBIDSIDA- Pro-bienestar y Dignidad de las PVVS (Panama)
Global Campaign for Microbicides, International (United States)
Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (Netherlands)
Health GAP (United States)
Health Promotion Foundation (Nigeria)
Institute of Caribbean Studies (United States)
Instituto Juan César Garcia (Ecuador)
International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (United States)
International Society of Tropical Pediatrics (Germany)
KwaZuluNatal AIDSLINK (South Africa)
Makerere University, Child Health and Development Centre (Uganda)
Medical Research Council of Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe)
Mercer County, New Jersey, HIV Consortium (United States)
Namibia Planned Parenthood Association (Namibia)
Pakistan Labour Federation HIV/AIDS Centre (Pakistan)
Provincetown AIDS Support Group (United States)
SUCEN- Superintendência de Controle de Endemias (Brazil)
Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre (Thailand)
United Progress Inc. (United States)
University of Nairobi, Department of Economics (Kenya)
University of Zambia Library (Zambia)
Yale University AIDS Network (United States)
Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (Zimbabwe)