Renewed push on international healthcare

Brown launches world health partnership
Brown launches world health partnership

Gordon Brown last night announced a new healthcare partnership to help rich nations meet their Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

From September 5 the International Health Partnership will help donor nations improve healthcare in the developing world.

The MDG mid-term report warned donor nations risked missing the targets, set at the UN summit in 2005, to reduce poverty and improve healthcare by 2015.

After meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel, the two leaders released a joint statement calling for an "improved approach".

Mr Brown said health care and health aid risked becoming a "development emergency".

The two leaders said the partnership would be a critical step in the call for international mobilisation to meet the MDGs.

They said: "Our efforts must bring together the private sector, NGOs, faith groups, international agencies and governments in a new partnership to reduce poverty, improve health and provide opportunities for the poor across the world."

To date, donor nations have concentrated on specific interventions. Mr Brown and Chancellor Merkel argued it was now time to focus on building strong sustainable health systems.

"Enormous challenges" lie ahead to strengthen "weak systems" and improve coordination across "fragmented health provision," they said.

Despite faltering success on the MDGs so far, the leaders insisted the world's richest nations were committed to meeting the pledges made in 2005.

They said: "We reaffirm our commitment made at the G8 and the EU to provide the financing needed to meet our health commitments through the established institutions and mechanisms.

"In this context, the replenishment of the Global Fund will be a key step. We will also explore innovative financing mechanisms to meet these commitments."

The MDG set specific targets for cutting extreme poverty and hunger, improving healthcare and reducing major diseases and promoting universal primary education.

However, the MDG mid-term report said half a million women are still dying a year through childbirth, ten million children die before their fifth birthday and one in four Aids sufferers in Africa are not receiving treatment.

Oxfam welcomed the renewed commitment to health care.

Alison Woodhead, head of the charity's international campaign for health and education, said: "This is a great initiative that deserves widespread international support. Brown and Merkel should be congratulated for following through on their G8 promises to improve health care.

"The challenge for them now is to make sure other countries get on board to ensure maximum impact.

"There are women, men and children in developing countries who are dying because they don't have access to healthcare or any doctors or nurses to attend to them."


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