§ Mr. Bercow
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what further action he proposes to take to help to achieve the goal in Africa of a reduction in under-five mortality rates for girls and boys from 158 per 1,000 live births to 139. 
§ Hilary Benn
While some African countries have successfully reduced child mortality since 1990, in others it has changed little, and some African countries have experienced a rise in child mortality since 1990. It is generally accepted that a significant change will be needed if the target to reduce under-five mortality rates by two thirds by 2015 is to be achieved. Challenges include: the HIV/AIDS epidemic; economic decline and persistent poverty; inequality; under-resourced and poorly functioning health systems; and lack of progress in reducing the number of deaths of newborn babies.
DFID supports child health through wider work on strengthening health systems. We are actively supporting health sector development in 10 African countries, including working with partners to strengthen policy and action on child health. The UK will also continue to contribute to global initiatives such as the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization and Roll Back Malaria, which have helped revitalise interest in childhood diseases and substantially increased the resources directed to child health. We shall continue to support implementation of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness Initiative with partners from the United Nations International Children's Fund, the World Health Organisation, the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development. This initiative is building the quality and quantity of child health care at country level throughout Africa. The UK is also part of the recently inaugurated High Level Forum on Health which plans to address systemic challenges to achieving the health related Millennium Development Goals.
In a range of countries we also have specific investments in sectors that contribute to reducing child mortality, for example in water and sanitation and in education. The UK's broader development efforts to enhance economic growth and address inequity, conflict, civil unrest, child rights and food insecurity can also be expected to have a positive impact on child health outcomes.937W
At all levels of our engagement with African partners, we shall be increasingly explicit that affordable and sustainable child health outcomes need greater priority in poverty reduction strategies, especially in those countries with high child mortality.
§ Mr. Bercow
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) if he will make a statement on progress towards the target of an increase in the proportion of births assisted by skilled birth attendants from 39 per cent. to 57 per cent. in key countries in Asia, with particular reference to Bangladesh and Pakistan; 
(2) if he will make a statement on progress towards the target of a reduction in under five mortality rates for girls and boys from 92 per 1,000 live births to 68 per 1,000 in four key countries in Asia, with particular reference to India; 
(3) if he will make a statement on progress towards the target of an increase in the ratio of girls to boys enrolled in primary school from 87 per cent. to 94 per cent. in four key countries in Asia, with particular reference to (a) Pakistan and (b) India; 
(4) if he will make a statement on progress towards the target of an increase in gross primary school enrolment from 95 per cent. to 100 per cent. in four key countries in Asia; 
(5) if he will make a statement on progress towards the target of a sustainable reduction in the proportion of people living in poverty from 15 per cent. to 10 per cent. in East Asia and the Pacific; 
(6) if he will make a statement on progress towards the target of a sustainable reduction in the proportion of people living in poverty from 40 per cent. to 32 per cent. in South Asia. 
Mr. Gareth Thomas
DFID's Autumn Performance Report (APR), which is available in the House of Commons Library, reports on progress towards all of Asia's Public Service Agreement (PSA) indicators. The APR also explains what action we are taking regarding off-track indicators. The following additional detail covers the country-specific issues.
China and India have made progress in increasing the proportion of births assisted by skilled birth attendants, but Bangladesh and Pakistan show little progress so far.
In Bangladesh, DFID is currently supporting the Government's national plan for maternal mortality reduction. We are considering what else we can do to help Bangladesh to make speedier progress, which might include giving earmarked funding to accelerate maternal mortality reduction or an increased budgetary allocation for this purpose. In Pakistan, where progress has also been slow, DFID is developing proposals for substantial support for accelerated actions to improve maternal and neonatal health.
There has been little improvement so far in reducing child mortality in India. To help respond to this challenge, DFID is supporting the design of the Government of India's Reproductive and Child Health Programme for 2004–08, which encompasses child mortality reduction. We intend to make a significant financial contribution in support of this programme.938W
The ratio of girls to boys enrolled in primary school has improved in Bangladesh and China but in Pakistan and India, considerable progress is still needed. The Pakistan Government, in their recent Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, expressed a commitment to provide education for all through improved access to primary education. We and the other major donors support this commitment. DFID's current education programme promotes progress towards universal primary education and we plan to expand this support over the coming year. In India, which has made some progress, we are continuing to support the District Primary Education Projects in our partner states of Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa. An integral part of this programme is the promotion of girls' education through a range of special initiatives and incentives. Enrolment, retention and completion rates of girls continue to steadily improve. We are also supporting the Lok Jumbish education programme in Rajasthan, which places significant emphasis on girls education. Emphasis on girls' education is also central in the new national strategy for universal elementary education, which DFID is planning to support with the WB and EC.