HC Deb 19 February 1990 vol 167 cc655-6
44. Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further measures he is taking to improve child health care in Africa.

Mrs. Chalker

Almost everything that we finance in Africa, bilaterally and through multilateral organisations, benefits children by encouraging sustainable economic and social development. Our health sector aid concentrates on preventive communuity-based systems in which mother and child health programmes have a central place. Child health also benefits from our support for family planning, provision of clean water and sanitation, education, especially women's education, and progammes to improve the status of women.

Mr. Bowis

Does my right hon. Friend agree that her response is a welcome statement of the Government's programme? Does she further agree that with a more effective oral rehydration therapy programme we could save more children's lives than the total number of lives that were lost in the first and second world wars? Will my right hon. Friend also consider the fact that half the world's children are currently not protected by the diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus programme of immunisation? Will she lead a children's crusade to improve the health of the world's children?

Mrs. Chalker

We are already helping with immunisation through our contributions to UNICEF's major programme. With regard to oral rehydration therapy, we have been a major contributor to the World Health Organisation's diarrhoeal disease control programme which is responsible for promoting the use of ORT.

Mrs. Clwyd

As the Minister knows, I have just returned from Ethiopia. Does she agree that in that country children are suffering most because of famine and war? Does she agree that the Foreign Ministers meeting in Dublin tomorrow should be asked to bring every effort to bear on the protagonists to end that bloody and increasingly vicious civil war and to bring the warring factions round the negotiating table?

Mr. Chalker

I am glad to see the hon. Lady back safe and sound from Ethiopia. I have already asked my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary whether he will consider raising in the Foreign Affairs Council in Dublin tomorrow the urgent need for a peace settlement in Ethiopia. Of course, the children suffer—probably rather more than the hon. Lady and I know. I hope that we shall use all international forums to bring about peace swiftly.

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