HC Deb 12 May 2004 vol 421 cc343-6
5. Christine Russell (Chester, City of) (Lab)

What recent representations he has received on the need to tackle HIV/AIDS globally. [172239]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Gareth Thomas)

Following the Government's call for action on HIV/AIDS, we are developing a new UK strategy for our response to help tackle the epidemic. We are conducting a wide-ranging consultation with stakeholders, including civil society, the private sector and developing country Governments. We aim to publish the strategy later this year.

Christine Russell

I am sure that my hon. Friend is aware of a recent World Health Organisation report that calls on the rich nations of the world to do more to help the poorer countries, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa, where AIDS is such a problem. Does he share my anxiety that, if we do not do more, we will find it difficult to reach the millennium goals for the reduction of maternal and infant mortality? I thank my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for his commitment to put AIDS high on the agenda when Britain takes over the presidency of the European Union and the G8 next year.

Mr. Thomas

My hon. Friend is right to say that HIV/AIDS is reversing many of the development gains of the past 20 years. It will continue to hamper progress towards those millennium development goals. She is right to say that we in the UK and the international community have to do much more to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic, not least because I believe that the worst is yet to come. Estimates suggest that there will be some 25 million orphans and vulnerable children in Africa alone by 2010. That is one reason for prioritising HIV/AIDS for the extra £320 million that we are committing to Africa by the end of 2005–06.

Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury) (Con)

The Minister's answer is welcome, but, as always, it focuses heavily on money. The Government would do well to look at the example of Uganda, which has achieved a truly terrific reduction in the incidence of HIV, saving tens or even hundreds of thousands of lives. Its ABC programme involves abstinence, being faithful to one's partner, and the use of condoms. May I urge the Minister to look at best practice as the best way of saving lives?

Mr. Thomas

As I said a moment ago, we are consulting a whole range of organisations about the best practice that we should deploy as a response to HIV/AIDS. He is absolutely right to say that Uganda has set a great example. The single most important factor in tackling the epidemic in-country is to have strong political leadership on the issue, and President Museveni has set a great example to other countries in Africa in that regard. The example of stronger, more high profile political leadership is the key requirement if we are to tackle HIV/AIDS properly.

  1. Democratic Republic of the Congo 561 words
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  3. Kaliningrad 248 words