At least a billion people around the world cannot currently obtain the health services they need and another 100 million are pushed below the poverty line as a result of paying for these services. Our experience in the UK tells us that ensuring free, universal access to quality services is one of the most effective ways to promote greater equality and enable people to transition out of poverty.
A large proportion of UK aid should be spent on helping partner countries strengthen public health and education services. At the 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto that pledged to establish a Centre for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) that would provide global partnerships, support and encouragement to countries that want UHC and would help them to generate the funding and systems required for its delivery.
As you know, Save the Children has been campaigning for UK aid to be spent on ensuring all children have access to affordable healthcare. On 6 November, the UK pledged £50 million to the World Bank’s Global Financing Facility replenishment conference to help fill a global funding gap for healthcare, specifically to help stop women and babies dying in childbirth.
UK aid will be spent on providing medicines, equipment and life-saving resources for pregnant women, babies and children in 27 countries in Africa and Asia until 2023. The UK has also previously committed £30 million funding to the GFF between 2017 and 2020 to fund pilots for innovative financing mechanisms that will increase domestic and private sector resources for sexual and reproductive health and rights.
We should also invest in new public-health driven research and development to find effective and affordable treatments for diseases in the developing world, including fighting TB, malaria, HIV/AIDS and neglected tropical diseases.
As requested I have written to the Secretary of State for International Development to ask if she will refinance the Global Finance Facility to make sure that UK Aid is invested in helping countries stand on their own two feet and to build strong healthcare systems. As soon as I have received a response I will provide an update.
I can assure you I will continue to support UK aid being used to strengthen healthcare systems in developing countries.