It is alarming that Unicef’s Future At Risk report states that by the end of October 2020, 94 million children had missed scheduled measles vaccine doses due to delayed vaccination campaigns in 26 countries. The secondary impacts of the pandemic risk doing untold damage. Overcoming this crisis requires us to work together.
I agree with Unicef that the UK must lead global efforts to strengthen health systems across the world. We must put people, not profit, at the heart of healthcare. I believe the UK must work with our international partners to promote policies which increase domestic resources to pay for quality healthcare. Provision of universal, accessible maternal and newborn health services must be a priority.
I also believe we must develop a cross-governmental, global health strategy. The UK Government has said it will use its G7 Presidency to promote global health, and I assure you I will hold it to account on this commitment.
We must also prioritise nutrition. Alarmingly, as Unicef states, an additional 6.7 million children were predicted to become severely acutely malnourished or wasted by the end of 2020. No child should face growing up with malnutrition.
The UK’s 2013 Nutrition for Growth pledge expired in 2020, and it is vital that we renew and expand on this commitment. The UK Government has said it will provide an update on its approach to nutrition as soon as it is feasible, and I assure you I will monitor developments on this closely.
I completely agree with Unicef that the UK must continue to spend 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) on aid. I am very concerned about the UK Government’s decision to reduce aid spending to 0.5% of GNI in 2021, despite its manifesto pledge to maintain the 0.7% commitment.
The decision to reduce our aid spending commitment is not a necessity, and it will make it harder for the UK to create a safer, healthier world for us all. I will continue to oppose this decision.