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World Vision Canada

Keep your promises to the kids, Mr. Harper

World Vision says G8 leaders need to deliver on 2005 AIDS-related commitments

 

TORONTO, June 26 /CNW/- Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his fellow G8 leaders need to keep their AIDS-related promises when they meet next month in Japan, says World Vision, a child-focused organization supported by more than half a million Canadians.

At last year's G8 Summit, world leaders committed to scaling up their efforts towards the goal of universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention programs, treatment, care and support by 2010. With less than two years to go until the G8-endorsed target date, these commitments still need firm funding and implementation plans.

Worldwide, more than 33 million people were living with HIV in 2007, including 2.5 million children. Despite the promises made, more than 70 per cent of people, including 85 per cent of children, are not receiving the HIV treatment they urgently need. As a result, a reported two million people died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2007.

"It's troubling that Canada is near the bottom of the list of governments' spending to fight HIV and AIDS," said Dave Toycen, president and CEO of World Vision Canada, today at the Toronto launch of the organization's One Life Exhibit, an AIDS awareness exhibit. "Our country's actions on the international stage simply do not match the level of concern Canadians feel on this issue."

A recent Ipsos Reid survey commissioned by World Vision found that Canadians are ahead of six other G8 nations (United States, U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Japan) in the belief that they have a moral obligation to try to stop the spread of HIV. The survey also revealed that Canadians want their government to do more: 84 per cent of Canadians agree that the government should do much more to help children who are orphaned by AIDS and AIDS-related illnesses around the world.

Compassion translated into action will help people like Olipa Chimangeni, an AIDS activist from Malawi whose story is featured in World Vision's One Life Experience AIDS exhibit at Harbourfront Centre from June 27-July 1. Chimangeni speaks first-hand about the challenges of 'living positively' after being victim to abuse that left her and her new-born daughter with HIV.

"Whether I'm speaking to people in bars, schools and churches in Malawi where I've personally felt the stigma of AIDS, or I'm putting the pressure on politicians worldwide to keep their promises - my message is clear: everybody has a responsibility to prevent the spread of AIDS," says Chimangeni.

World Vision donors in Canada are doing their part to combat the pandemic. They support programs worldwide that include community-led care for orphans and vulnerable children affected by AIDS; HIV prevention for youth; and awareness programs to overcome the stigma and discrimination.

Amboka Wameyo, World Vision's advocacy and program integration manager, points out that World Vision works in 25 African countries where the AIDS pandemic is having an impact on children, communities and national economics.

"World Vision is calling on African national governments to invest adequate resources in building health systems that can deal with the pandemic. However, the efforts of African governments will fail if they are not complimented by dedicated support from the international community including the G8," says Wameyo.

As the Prime Minister heads to Japan for this year's G8 Summit, World Vision urges Canada to make child health a priority on the agenda. In particular, World Vision is calling on G8 leaders to:

1) Set annual funding pledges for meeting existing AIDS commitments. In 2005, G8 leaders committed to achieving universal access to prevention, treatment and care by 2010. In 2007, they made specific commitment to preventing mother-to-child transmission and to providing pediatric treatment and assistance for orphans and vulnerable children. These commitments now need firm funding and implementation plans.

2) Be champions for the prevention of child hunger and under-nutrition in responding to the current food crisis. Canada has responded to the call for increased food aid to offset the short-term impacts. We now need a long-term strategy that protects children.

3) Establish annual funding commitments to fulfill promises made on Canada's aid program. While Canada's aid has increased in recent years, with respect to reaching the target of 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI), the government is actually going backwards. Currently, Canada's aid budget is just 0.28 per cent of GNI, well below the average of donor countries.

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World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

For further information: or to arrange an interview, contact: Tiffany Baggetta, (905) 565-6200, ext. 2485, (416) 677-4450 (cell), tiffany_baggetta@worldvision.ca

 


 

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