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Mikes intervention on the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria

Mike Kane (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Dorries. Thank you for skilfully fitting in so many contributions in such a short time. I have to declare an interest: like the hon. Member for Glasgow North (Patrick Grady), I did not go on the Zambia trip last year. We have heard incredibly powerful testimonies from the hon. Members for Pudsey (Stuart Andrew), for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford) and for Mid Derbyshire (Pauline Latham), and from my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Kate Osamor). The change that we can make as a developed nation helping developing nations is essential, and they have brought real quality to the debate.

 

I, too, congratulate the right hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick Herbert) on securing this timely debate. I thank him for his leadership on the issue of tuberculosis—he chairs the global caucus on the matter. This debate follows on from the debate on malaria that the hon. Member for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy) secured in October, so the House has been highly focused on these issues and on the Global Fund. It is incumbent on me to welcome the new International Development Minister to his place and congratulate him on his position.

We all welcome the recently adopted agenda for sustainable development, which will guide international co-operation, including the UK’s development co-operation, over the next 15 years. We are entering a new era of efforts to eradicate poverty, foster human wellbeing and protect our planet. It is a universal programme for all people in all countries. As the hon. Member for Finchley and Golders Green (Mike Freer) said, it should leave no one behind. We now have to realise the transformational potential of the agenda.

We are talking about three diseases. In the October debate, the hon. Member for Stafford highlighted the issue of global malaria. Global malaria control is one of the great public health success stories of the past 15 years, but we face substantial challenges, such as the spread of resistance to drugs and insecticides. The prevention of infectious diseases is one of the best uses of aid, as the hon. Member for Pudsey said. It is estimated that if global malaria targets are achieved by 2030, more than 10 million lives will be saved, generating more than $4 trillion of additional economic output. We know what that kind of output can mean to developing nations.

Through sustained efforts, the tuberculosis mortality rate has nearly halved since 1980. However, as has been said, more than 1.5 million people died from TB in 2014. According to the World Health Organisation’s 2015 global tuberculosis report, most of those deaths could have been prevented. The report highlights the need to close the detection and treatment gaps. We want to get there by 2030, as the right hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs said, not in 200 years. We need to fill the funding shortfalls and develop new diagnostic tools. Through partnerships, Global Fund programmes have detected and treated more than 13.2 million cases of TB.

AIDS is the biggest killer in the world of women of reproduction age and the second biggest killer of adolescents. Some 1.2 million people died of HIV or HIV-related illnesses in 2014, and more than 36 million people currently live with the virus. Global Fund programmes have enabled 8.1 million people with HIV to access antiretroviral therapy.

The Opposition welcome the establishment of the £1 billion Ross fund, in co-operation with the Gates Foundation. We will hold the Government to account on how that co-operation is going in the months and years ahead. That £1 billion includes a £300 million package on malaria and £115 million to develop new drugs and insecticides for malaria and TB. We also need to support multilateral partners, such as the Global Fund, to fight HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. It is essential that we continue to fund that work and build on what has already been done. In particular, we must invest in new vaccines, medicines, insecticides and diagnostic tools.

If we tackle AIDS, TB and malaria, there will be a number of spill-over effects, such as greater productivity and growth, reduced worker and child absenteeism, increased equity and women’s empowerment, and improved wellbeing, particularly for vulnerable and marginalised populations. Failure to act could lead to the diseases resurging, leading to increased deaths and lost opportunities for progress and development. The Ebola crisis in west Africa has painfully illustrated the importance of strong public health systems in fighting diseases. The lessons also apply to our efforts to combat AIDS, TB and malaria.

We need to scale up our efforts in combating malaria, to which the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) and my hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin)alluded. We need to invest more in AIDS and TB research and development, tackling resistance to life-saving medicines and boosting health systems across the world to help bring an end to these terrible diseases.

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