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Sub-Saharan Africa (Midwives)

Volume 523: debated on Wednesday 16 February 2011

8. What support his Department is providing for the training of midwives and maternal health specialists in sub-Saharan Africa. (40978)

With more than half of maternal deaths globally occurring in sub-Saharan Africa, DFID funds the training of midwives and other health care workers through various channels—[Interruption.]

Order. I apologise for having to interrupt the Minister. Far too many private conversations are taking place. It is the height of discourtesy for Members to witter away, including from the Government Back Benches, when the Minister is trying to be heard.

I am grateful, Mr Speaker.

DFID bilateral programmes directly support national health sector plans of partner countries and non-government organisation-implemented projects, and give support through multilateral organisations such as the World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

I am sure the Minister is aware of data collected for the World Health Organisation that show disparity between the provision of maternal health services in more rural areas and in the slightly better-funded urban areas in many countries in Africa? Will he outline what the Department will do to help to address that problem?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing out that important disparity. The UK Government recently announced the framework for results on reproductive, maternal and neonatal health, which directly seeks to address how that disparity can be narrowed. I have seen for myself in northern Nigeria how DFID supports midwifery services, with a scheme to train 200 midwives who are then posted to rural facilities, which is vital to ensure that the disparity is addressed.

I am proud to support Save the Children’s “No child born to die” campaign, which seeks to make more life-saving vaccines available to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable children. The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation summit is to take place in the UK later this year, and Save the Children is lobbying for the Prime Minister to represent the UK at that summit. What steps will the Minister to take to make sure that the Government are represented at the highest level?

The hon. Gentleman is right; the Save the Children campaign is one that we follow closely. The GAVI conference will be hosted in London and we can confirm that it will have the full support of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, to show our commitment.