As world leaders begin meeting in Italy, the aid agency World Vision has accused them of failing to honour aid pledges to the world’s poorest countries.
The G8 had made significant commitments under the terms of the Millennium Development Goals, one of which calls for a two-thirds reduction in avoidable child deaths from disease.
World Vision has also called on the G8 to more than triple aid on primary health care from less than $5 billion to $15 billion a year.
Patrick Watt, World Vision UK’s head of Public Affairs and campaigns, said: “The Italian government is using national economic problems as an alibi for its total failure to honour its aid pledges to the world’s poorest countries.
"Other G8 countries – the French in particular – look to be taking their cue from this dismal abdication of responsibility.
“The saying that ‘prevention is cheaper than cure’ is nowhere more true than in the case of child health: the cost of acting now to ensure access to basic family and community health care, particularly for newborn children and their mothers and of providing sufficient nutrition and safe water and sanitation represents a sound investment at just two per cent of the value of the domestic stimulus packages announced at April’s G20 summit in London.
“Left unchecked, child deaths and the poverty associated with them, threaten to set back by a generation the prospects of economic progress and political stability in the world’s poorest regions.
"The real Italian Job of the G8 is to demonstrate that it is more than a ‘Self Preservation Society’, and is able to recognise its responsibility to fulfil its promises to the world’s poorest people.”
World Vision is calling on the G8 to intensify efforts to meet existing commitments on child and maternal mortality and with other countries, to increase aid for primary health care from $4.6 billion to at least $15 billion a year by 2010.
It also wants the G8 to work with other donor countries to improve the quality of aid for health and to ensure that innovative funding mechanisms do not become a substitute for existing efforts.
A timetable to plan how each donor country will meet its aid promises for reaching the collective target of giving $130 billion in aid by 2010, is also being called for.