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Africa: Life Expectancy

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 17 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to increase life expectancy at birth in Africa. (137468)

DFID is working to increase life expectancy through a variety of activities including support for the provision of clean water and sanitation, large-scale immunisation and insecticide-treated bednets programmes and addressing related maternal mortality. Safe hygiene practice and improved access to clean water and sanitation are also vital for reducing child mortality. DFID produced the Water Action Plan in March 2004, and we will double our spending on water and sanitation to £95 million by 2007-08.

In Nigeria we are providing £20 million to rebuild routine immunisation services and a further £80 million for malaria control. In Tanzania we continue to provide support for the social marketing of bednets as part of the national Insecticide Treated Net Programme, and in Sierra Leone we are designing a new long term Child Survival and Maternal Health Programme with the World Bank and national partners. In Malawi we are contributing £100 million over six years to the government's essential health and human resource programme, and significant progress has been made on child survival through immunisation and malaria programmes. Similarly in Zambia we are major donors to the National Strategic Health Plan, which includes a focus on improving child health through expanded vaccination, curative care and improving access to services. In Kenya we are supporting a sector wide approach for the long term strengthening of the health system and improved service delivery. We have funded the development of a number of plans in human resources, procurement and financial management. We are also concentrating much support on the prevention of malaria, the major cause of mortality in children in Kenya. By the end of 2007 we will have spent more than £45 million on insecticide treated bednets and distributed 11 million nets, saving approximately 167,000 lives. DFID is indirectly supporting South Africa's efforts to reverse under-five mortality rates through the £30 million, five-year HIV/AIDS Multi-Sectoral Support Programme (MSP). Our support to the Maternal Child and Women Health Unit in the Department of Health supports research in the area of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), the development of fertility options policy, and research on barriers to antiretroviral uptake among children and pregnant women.

DFID continues to provide strong support to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria (GFATM), and also played a central role in the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) which issued its first bonds in November 2006. This will disburse $4 billion over the next 10 years and is estimated will save 10 million lives, including five million children before 2015. DFID also recently pledged long term support to UNITAID, the International Drug Purchase Facility, starting with a £15 million contribution in 2007, to ensure poor countries benefit from lower prices for drugs to treat AIDS, TB and malaria.