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What Happened to the Maternal and Child Health Initiative
at the 2010 G8 Muskoka Summit?

Jenilee Guebert
Director of Research, G8 Research Group and Global Health Diplomacy Program
June 29, 2010

The G8 committed $5 billion in new funding to Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper’s Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Under-Five Child Health when the leaders met on June 25-26, 2010. The money is to be delivered between 2010 and 2015. Canada provided a disproportionate $1.1 billion. The United States made a $1.3 billion commitment over 2010-11. The United Kingdom pledged approximately $600 million over two years. The Japanese agreed to give $500 million between 2011 and 2015. The Germans pledged approximately $500 million over five years. France said they would provide $400 million by 2015. Russia committed $75 million over three years. Italy and the European Union will provide the remaining $525 million.

The members accumulated an additional $2.3 billion in new funding from partners beyond the G8, including a $1.5 billion commitment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and additional funds from Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the United Nations. However, the total $7.3 billion announcement is far from the estimated $30 billion that is needed to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 by their 2015 deadline.

Harper suggested that the commitments made at this year’s Muskoka Summit might be more modest, as accountability was also a key focus. He was adamant that leaders only commit to pledges they intend to keep. While this is an important point, the leaders’ less ambitious promise will nonetheless leave many women and children in need.

The G8 – the wealthiest countries in the world – have left a large burden on the shoulders of the global community to come up with the additional $22.7 billion.

The G8 has also yet to answer for the many other critical health promises it has made, including providing universal access for HIV/AIDS treatment, halving the incidence of tuberculosis and malaria, and eradicating polio from the planet.

The G8 must insure its members are held accountable for the promises they have made, and will continue to make — the bold, ambitious promises that will make a significant difference, particularly for those who need it the most. The G8 is more capable than it has proved to be at the 2010 Muskoka Summit. It still has much to prove in terms of what it can and should do.

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