GENEVA (Reuters) – Leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) rich nations meeting in Japan next month must tackle health scourges in developing countries to boost global prosperity and security, eight international organisations said on Monday.

The previous Japanese G8 summit at Okinawa in 2000 fuelled efforts to tackle AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and other diseases, said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan and the heads of other bodies such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Since then access to HIV treatment in developing countries has soared and efforts to tackle tuberculosis, polio, measles and malaria have made progress.

“Without doubt, the spirit of Okinawa drove efforts that improved the health of millions of people,” they said in a letter to be published in Tuesday’s edition of the International Herald Tribune and issued on its website on Monday.

“Now, the Hokkaido summit presents Japan and its fellow G8 leaders with an ideal opportunity to protect these achievements, to renew existing commitments to reproductive health and fight against HIV, TB and malaria, to finish polio eradication and to address the terrible gaps that remain in public health,” they said.

They called on the G8 leaders to coordinate single-disease initiatives by funding and strengthening health systems, commit to new long-term predictable financing linked to results in healthcare and disease reduction and increase efforts in nutrition, clean water and sanitation.

“A world that neglects the health of people is neither stable nor secure,” they said.

The G8 comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and Russia.

(To read the full letter click on: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/06/09/opinion/edlet.php )

(Reporting by Jonathan Lynn)

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