G-8 leaders to mobilize 5 billion funding for child health

     Group of Eight (G8) leaders on Saturday concluded their 2010 annual summit at Huntsville with a pledge to mobilize an additional five billion US dollars over the next five years as additional funding for the Mukoska Initiative for improving maternal, newborn and child health globally. Other partner countries and foundations committed to additional funding of 2.3 billion dollars to be disbursed over the same period. Also known as the Mukoska Declaration, the G-8 leaders reaffirmed their essential role in international affairs and agreed to focus on strength, development, peace and global security challenges. "We had a very successful summit. We have refocused the G8 on its strength, development, peace and of course global security challenges," said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the G-8 rotating president for the year and also chair of the current summit, at a closing press conference. The summit, which drew leaders of the world's eight major industrialized countries, the European Union and 10 selected African and Latin American developing countries, covered a wide range of topics from the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and food security to climate change and support for Africa, as well as many complex issues of international peace and stability. The initiative is expected to significantly reduce the number of maternal, newborn and under-five child deaths in developing countries, and help accelerate progress toward the MDGs, said the G8 leaders. In another fresh step, a Muskoka Accountability Report was announced, in a bid to increase transparency on the implementation of its own commitments, something the group said all international organizations and forums should do. This year's G-8 summit is being seen as a prelude to the Fourth G-20 summit. The G-20, which is composed of all major developed and emerging economies, and has a broader representation, has emerged as the world's premier forum for international economic cooperation and policy coordination since its first summit in 2008 in the depth of global financial crisis and economic recession. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper rubbished reports of the G-8 losing its significance in the wake of the formation of the G-20. "It is central that the G8 keeps its promises going forward. This is essential to the credibility and effectiveness of this forum as an organization.The G8 has been reshaped and re-energized," Harper said. The Muskoka Declaration also stressed that the G8 has " demonstrated the capacity to design credible approaches to meet the challenges of our times." It was also confirmed in the summit document that France, which will take over the rotating G-8 presidency from Canada next year, will host the next G8 summit in 2011.

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