HC Deb 06 March 2002 vol 381 cc279-80
7. Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell)

What actions she is taking to combat (a) HIV/AIDS, (b) TB and (c) malaria in the developing world. [37321]

The Secretary of State for International Development (Clare Short)

Approximately half of infectious disease deaths in developing countries can be attributed to three diseases: HIV, TB and malaria, which cause more than 5 million deaths per year. My Department is working to strengthen developing countries' health systems and we have committed more than £1 billion to that purpose since 1997. The UK has also taken an active role in establishing the global fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria, which is designed to improve provision of drugs and commodities to treat those diseases. I have pledged $200 million from my budget over five years for the fund.

Chris Grayling

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. Does she share the view held by those on the Conservative Benches that the United Nations global health fund should be using some of its resources to ensure that AIDS and HIV sufferers in Africa have access to the drugs that they need?

Clare Short

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. The fund's purpose is to make drugs and commodities available. That includes, for example, HIV testing; most people with HIV do not even know that they have it and do not take action to protect themselves and to ensure that they do not infect others. Many people with HIV get TB, become unable to work and then become impoverished, and so on. The fund is meant to supply drugs and commodities, get the prices down by making big orders, ensure reliability of supply and exert leverage in developing countries to ensure that they have better systems to deliver. HIV/AIDS prevention is better than the use of anti-retrovirals to keep people alive, so that is our major focus, but lower priced anti-retrovirals are now available from pharmaceutical companies where delivery systems are in place.