Keep your promises to the kids, Mr. Harper

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

    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.

    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:

For further information: World Vision staff is available for media
interviews. Please contact: Tiffany Baggetta, (905) 565-6200 ext 2485, (416)
677-4450 (cell),; Yoko Kobayashi, (905)
565-6200 ext. 2151, (416) 671-0086 (cell),

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