Vaccinations: Developing Countries — [Mr Nigel Evans in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 13th June 2018.

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Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb Conservative, Preseli Pembrokeshire 2:30 pm, 13th June 2018

My hon. Friend makes an extremely important point. There are well established networks nationally in the UK and internationally, which bring policy makers together with academics, scientists and researchers who look at these issues. Surely within that there needs to be a role for people with a trade focus to link that investment angle into it as well. There would probably be a lot of interest, particularly among some of the private sector interests that are part of those networks, in seeing people such as Government trade envoys getting on board and helping with these programmes.

GAVI’s advance market commitment pilot, supported by the UK Government, has created a temporary but pioneering funding model that is changing the picture that I described—the poorest and most marginalised not getting access to vaccines—and it is doing so by changing the market. That funding mechanism can reduce the price of vaccines, such as the ones I have described for pneumonia, by creating an incentive for new manufacturers to enter the market and increase competition. The advance market commitment has succeeded in reducing the usual delay between introduction of a new vaccine in developed and in developing countries from 10 to 15 years to just three, reducing inequalities in access between rich and poor countries.

As we look to the future of programmes such as GAVI and the global health fund, which I was describing a few moments ago, we know that decisions will need to be made in due course about Britain’s ongoing support for those programmes. Those decisions will not necessarily be made anytime soon, but I urge the Minister and his teams, as they prepare for the replenishment conferences for GAVI and the global health fund, to bring together as much high-quality research and evidence as possible to enable them to make a strong, positive decision to continue funding those vital, life-saving programmes and, crucially, to explain that and show members of the public that it is a really good investment of our aid money for the future.

Investments in vaccines remain an enormously effective use of aid and contribute directly to achieving the sustainable development goals. Britain has a powerful track record to point to and we should do more to highlight that—not in the sense of being self-congratulatory, but to help to strengthen the broader case for overseas aid. Britain’s leadership in the field of vaccinations flows directly from the political consensus of a decade ago to expand our overseas aid budget and direct it towards some of the most difficult global challenges. The remarkable international effort on vaccinations underlines the importance of reforging that consensus and protecting UK aid.