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UN hails G8 commitment on infectious diseases

UN health agency hails G8 commitment to tackle infectious diseases worldwide

Praising a series of detailed health commitments by the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations, currently holding their Summit in Russia, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today stressed the importance of tackling infectious diseases because of their “health, social, security and economic impacts.”

The G8 agreed to strengthen the global network for surveillance and monitoring of infectious diseases, including improving transparency by all countries in sharing information, and also renewed its support to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, along with various other specific health goals, WHO said in a news release.

“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 discuss the issue of infectious diseases with G8 leaders, underscoring several priorities, including the need to sustain political and financial momentum for scaling up against the major infectious diseases and also the need to manage new disease outbreaks and threats – including a potential pandemic influenza outbreak.

The G8’s commitment to tackling infectious diseases was included in a 12-page health outcome document that covered key issues, including surveillance, a possible human influenza pandemic, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, polio, measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases, and access to prevention, treatment and care.

The Russian Federation carried on the G8 tradition of supporting polio eradication by committing $18 million to the programme, as did the United Kingdom in Gleneagles at last year’s Summit.

Also at the G8 Summit today, the head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) appealed for more international assistance for education efforts in developing countries, particularly in Africa.

“There are over 100 million children out of school in the world today, around 18 per cent of the total of school-age children. However, it is very serious in sub-Saharan Africa: almost 50 per cent of primary school-age children in West and Central Africa are out of school and more than one-third in Eastern and Southern Africa,” said UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura.

The G8 education document, adopted on Sunday, among other provisions welcomed UNESCO’s efforts to finalize a Global Action Plan to achieve international education goals and to provide a framework for coordinated and complementary action by multilateral aid agencies in carrying out efforts in countries.

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