On the eve of the G20 meeting in London on April 2, 2009, Dr Julian Lob-Levyt, Chief Executive Officer of the GAVI Alliance and Professor Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of The Global Fund wrote an open letter inviting G20 leaders to increase investments in improving healthcare for the world's poor despite the global economic crisis
Geneva, 2 April 2009 - As you prepare for the G20 meeting in London next week, we would like to draw your attention to the unprecedented opportunity to improve global health that lies before us.
Over the past eight years we have seen a dramatic scale-up of investments to improve health for the world's poor. Those investments have been transformed into dramatic successes in the fight against the diseases of poverty. Between programmes supported by GAVI and the Global Fund alone, seven million deaths have either been averted or prevented. Other bilateral and multilateral efforts can show that their support has enabled similar results. With a concerted effort we can jointly ensure that the ambition to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) can be realised.
The G20 is meeting at a time of extraordinarily difficult challenges. the economic crisis that has engulfed the world is threatening to wipe out decades of hard-earned progress in reducing poverty. Relatively small reductions in financing could have dramatic negative effects on health services and lead to a loss of momentum that could take decades to repair. As so often before, it is the poorest, particularly women and children, who will bear the brunt of this crisis.
Increasing investments in health is an effective way to extend a security net to the world's poorest in times of crisis and assist developing countries in overcoming the economic hardships they are facing. If resources for development are to become more scarce, health investments have shown to be efficient and provide a measurable and cost-effective return on investments.
Over the past few years, we have learned valuable lessons. We can now expand the experiences in fighting specific diseases into programmes to reduce child mortality more generally and to improve women's health. Investments in new vaccines to prevent pneumonia and diarrhoea - the two largest child killers - will have a significant impact on MDG4. Investments in proven prevention and treatment technologies can have a dramatic impact on the AIDS, TB and malaria burden.
We are building a body of knowledge about what works in strengthening health systems to ensure a balanced, sustainable delivery of health services in a developing-country context. Through the International Health Partnership we are putting the OECD's principles of aid effectiveness into practice. The experience in institutions tailored to finance performance, such as GAVI and the Global Fund, provide important lessons in other fields of finance for development.
We look forward to building on the successes of the past years, and continuing the progress towards a world where we can bring millions out of poverty and accelerate development and prosperity by reducing the burden of infectious and vaccine-preventable diseases.
Now is the moment to invest in health. It works. It saves millions of lives.
Chief Executive Officer of the GAVI Alliance
Professor Michel Kazatchkine
Executive Director of The Global Fund