Japan plans to host a conference in early December to promote cooperation in fighting infectious diseases that have ravaged many developing countries, government sources said Thursday.
The sources said the conference, which will focus on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, will be attended by officials of aid-donating countries, developing countries — with heavy participation from Africa — and international organizations, including the World Health Organization.
Representatives from the pharmaceutical industry and nongovernmental organizations who are engaged in health-care activities in developing countries will also be invited.
At a summit in Okinawa Prefecture in late July, the top leaders from the Group of Eight major countries — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States — agreed to redouble their efforts on dealing with infectious and parasitic diseases.
“Health is key to prosperity. Good health contributes directly to economic growth whilst poor health drives poverty,” the G8 leaders said in a communique issued at the end of their three-day gathering.
“Infectious and parasitic diseases, most notably HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, as well as childhood diseases and common infections, threaten to reverse decades of development and to rob an entire generation of hope for a better future,” the communique continues.
The specific goals set by the G8 leaders included lowering the number of HIV/AIDS-infected young people by 25 percent, slashing TB deaths and prevalence of the disease by 50 percent, and reducing the burden of disease associated with malaria by 50 percent, all by 2010.
The G8 leaders agreed in Okinawa to convene an international conference in Japan to “deliver agreement on a new strategy to harness our commitments,” according to the G8 summit communique. But the specific timing of the conference on infectious diseases had not been set at that time.
“The planned conference in Japan will be aimed at discussing specific ways of achieving the numerical targets agreed upon at the G8 summit in Okinawa,” one government source said.
Health, along with information technology, was high on the agenda for the Okinawa summit. Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori announced and explained Japan’s $18 billion aid initiative on the two areas.
Under the initiative, Japan, the world’s largest single aid donor in the past nine years, will extend $3 billion to help developing countries combat AIDS and other infectious diseases over five years.
Japan will also provide $15 billion in aid during the same period to developing countries as part of efforts to bridge the “digital divide,” the widening of an economic gap between countries or individuals that have access to IT and those that do not.
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