AIDS

– in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 9th November 2005.

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Photo of Chris McCafferty Chris McCafferty Labour, Calder Valley 11:30 am, 9th November 2005

What steps have been taken to improve the working relationship between the UN and international donors in respect of responses to AIDS.

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Party Chair, Co-operative Party

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, chaired the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria replenishment conference in London in September. International donors, including ourselves, pledged $3.7 billion. A further conference will be held next year. At the same time, donors and UN agencies discussed progress of the global task team in improving AIDS co-ordination and we are continuing to play an active part in that team.

Photo of Chris McCafferty Chris McCafferty Labour, Calder Valley

Does my hon. Friend agree that not only that working relationship, but that of the sexual and reproductive health stakeholders and HIV/AIDS stakeholders needs to be improved? I hope that the Secretary of State will assure the House that he will engage the UN at the very highest levels to help secure a target for reproductive health within the millennium development goal framework. Will he also report back on progress and the success that he achieves?

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Party Chair, Co-operative Party

My hon. Friend will know that we and the European Union collectively have long thought that there should be a target on reproductive health in respect of the millennium development goals. The outcomes document from the millennium review summit called for universal access to reproductive health by 2015. We are discussing with the UN secretariat and a range of other players in the UN how best to take forward that commitment.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

May I commend the work of World Vision, with which my hon. Friend John Bercow and I travelled to Mozambique in the summer to see its work for children orphaned by AIDS? In the Minister's dealings with the UN and international donors, will he urge them to stress to recipient Governments that commitments to children suffering from or orphaned by AIDS and to the most vulnerable people affected by it should be met, as it is all too easy for those commitments to fall behind in comparison with those of more vocal sufferers?

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Party Chair, Co-operative Party

I join the hon. Gentleman in paying tribute to the work of World Vision, which has been particularly active in campaigning to highlight the needs of orphans and vulnerable children affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. He may know that we have committed, with UNICEF, to host its annual global partners forum, which looks at the specific needs of orphans and vulnerable children. This year, we will look at some of the blockages in getting the aid through to the non-governmental organisations working with orphans and vulnerable children at the grass roots. I am sure that he will also be aware that we have committed £150 million over the next three years specifically for assistance to help orphans and vulnerable children affected by AIDS.

Photo of Sally Keeble Sally Keeble Labour, Northampton North

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the points that he has made. Will he confirm that, in the meeting with UNICEF, he will look into how aid is provided, particularly at feeding programmes through community-based groups in African countries to support orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS?

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Party Chair, Co-operative Party

I recognise the campaigning work that my hon. Friend has done on this issue. As I told Alistair Burt, we will consider what further action we can take to speed the delivery of aid to grass-roots NGOs of the type that my hon. Friend has worked for and consistently advocated. On my recent visit to Malawi and Zambia, I saw that delivery is speeding up, but more remains to be done. As she says, that will be the focus of our global partners forum meeting with UNICEF in February.

Photo of Mark Simmonds Mark Simmonds Shadow Minister (International Development)

Effective prevention, education and treatment in respect of HIV/AIDS are essential if we are to progress control of the disease, and Opposition Members welcome the aspirations in that regard at the G8 summit and the global fund replenishment summit. Increasingly, however, DFID's budget is being spent through partnerships with Governments, multilateral organisations and institutions, and NGOs—channels that have minimal accountability. Will the Minister say what progress DFID has made since the critical report of November 2003 in monitoring and evaluating the channels through which British taxpayers' money is spent? How will partnership performance be assessed and resources allocated to ensure maximum prevention, and maximum treatment, of HIV/AIDS?

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Party Chair, Co-operative Party

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's premise that there is minimal accountability for the aid that we dispense through budget support or multilateral organisations. There is a whole process of auditing and assessing how the Government deliver aid and whether our arrangements are appropriate. Where our arrangements in-country are not appropriate, we will not dispense aid through budget support but work through NGOs or UN organisations.

I absolutely accept the point about the need to continue to focus on prevention of HIV/AIDS as well as on treatment. Over the past two years, significant attention has rightly been given to the question of how we get more access to antiretroviral drugs. We need to continue that work and to return to the question of how we can ensure that people have more access to the various prevention measures, such as condoms. We must also step up our research into developing a workable vaccine and an effective microbicide. In the run-up to world AIDS day, we are hosting an event for EU Development Ministers to look at that precise issue.