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Global Fund

Volume 656: debated on Wednesday 20 March 2019

2. What (a) preparations she has made for and (b) plans she has to attend the Global Fund’s sixth replenishment conference in October 2019. (909915)

The Global Fund plays a critical role in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, having helped to save 27 million lives to date. The UK is considering the Global Fund’s investment case ahead of determining our contribution to a successful sixth replenishment, and senior UK attendance will be determined in due course.

I saw the devastating impact that HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria can have on communities during the four years that I led health services on the Uganda-Democratic Republic of the Congo border. Although the UK’s contribution has saved 2.3 million lives, progress is stalling, and the Global Fund is asking countries to increase their contributions by 15%. Will the Minister meet the all-party parliamentary groups on HIV and AIDS, on malaria and neglected tropical diseases and on global tuberculosis to discuss the UK’s response?

First, the House should pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman, who is one of a number of Members who have a background in that sort of work. We are in the hon. Gentleman’s debt for the experience that he has brought to the House’s discussions on the work that needs to be done. We recognise the need to keep the fund at a reasonable level, but we want to do even more, and I will of course meet him and other colleagues to discuss the matter.

If the Minister does go to the replenishment conference in France, will he share with other donors the excellent new UK initiative of an unlimited small charities challenge fund, which is a very real way to tackle some of these preventable and challenging diseases?

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has done invaluable work in boosting the small charities fund. It will indeed be more accessible for charities around the country that are doing great work in these fields, and we see it as a valuable addition to the work of DFID and the UK’s international contribution.

11. The UK’s efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS are to be welcomed, yet progress remains slow in turning the tide of infections and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses. What further action will the Government be taking to strengthen public healthcare in developing countries, to improve prevention and access to treatment? (909924)

The hon. Lady is absolutely right. It is very important that HIV/AIDS is not seen as an issue of yesterday. I was present at the Amsterdam conference last year to make the case that there are still target groups that need more support. Sustaining and ensuring that countries’ local health systems have sustainable methods of dealing with this is a fundamental of DFID’s global health work, and it is essential that this work continues.

As chair of the all-party parliamentary group on malaria and neglected tropical diseases, I have seen the excellent work that the Global Fund has supported over the years, but local contributions from endemic countries are incredibly important. Will the Minister enlighten on whether those contributions have increased over recent years so that they can be put alongside the contributions through the Global Fund?

My hon. Friend is correct that national Governments have a significant responsibility regarding their contributions. Those contributions are increasing, but the question of mainstreaming that support so that it comes into their sustainable health systems naturally has to be considered. We will be working with other donors to boost the fund, and national Governments will have an increasing responsibility as time goes on, but they will not be left to deal with this situation alone.

There is some concern that the figure set out in the investment case by the Global Fund may not represent what is actually needed to get the world back on track, to meet sustainable development goal 3 and to end the epidemics of AIDS, TB and malaria. What avenues are the UK Government exploring ahead of the next replenishment conference to ensure that the global response meets what is actually needed?

We are the second largest donor to the current replenishment, and this is having a significant impact. We are conscious of the need to review the investment case carefully, and we are working with other donors to ensure that it does meet the challenges. Given that a number of different replenishments are going on at the same time, we are bringing our thinking together this year to ensure that United Kingdom support is well spent and covers the replenishments appropriately.

We can all agree on continued UK support for tackling the world’s deadliest diseases, but with so much Brexit uncertainty, the sector is rightly concerned about the future of UK aid and our role as a world leader in global health. I am sure that those in the sector have taken some reassurance from the Secretary of State’s comments on Monday that they should

“calm down and chill out”.

With almost weekly attacks on the Secretary of State’s Department from her own colleagues, and the Department losing 170 staff due to Brexit chaos, it is difficult to know what would be a bigger danger to UK aid—a no-deal Brexit or a Tory leadership challenge. Perhaps the Minister can dissociate himself, once and for all, from attempts to water down the 0.7% of UK aid from public funds.

Good try, Dan. It was the Conservative party that brought forward the 0.7% commitment, and it is a Conservative Government who have worked it through. I entirely understand the hon. Gentleman’s point; it was a good try. The Government are enormously committed to the delivery of aid, to ensuring that aid is constantly reviewed and does the job, to the 0.7% and to the independence of the Department for International Development, so that it remains a self-standing part of the Government. The hon. Gentleman need have no fears. If we wants to avoid the worries of Brexit, perhaps he might vote for the deal.

10. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we are in a position to make ambitious pledges both to the Global Fund and to Gavi, precisely because we kept our promise on the global stage to meet and increase our aid spending, and will he assure the House that the Government have absolutely no intention to water down, dilute or walk away from our promises? (909923)

My right hon. Friend is absolutely correct—no, there is not. He speaks of the Gavi replenishment, which is again important this year. That refers to global vaccination, which we will of course maintain our support for and position on. I hope that the whole House unites in combating the anti-vaccination campaigns that are taking place in too many parts of the world. As someone who had the benefit of my father’s own polio vaccinations to me as a child, vaccination is very personal to me. We all need to keep it up—and thanks, Dad.