UK & Germany – An International Health Partnership is to be launched (5 September) to bring together major donor countries, as well as key international agencies such as the World Bank and the World Health Organisation, to hasten the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that aim to reduce infant and maternal mortality and tackle HIV/AIDS, polio, measles and many other diseases.
The new partnership follows talks at 10 Downing Street between the UK’s new Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who later jointly announced that addressing healthcare and aid provision was now a ‘development emergency’.
Speaking at the United Nations in June, Prime Minister Brown had urged the most developed countries to get back on track with meeting their jointly agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were established by the UN back in September 2000. These include specific commitments, such as eradicating extreme poverty and achieving universal primary education – aims to be met by 2015.
For her part, earlier this year Chancellor Merkel had led the G8 summit, when the world’s richest nations promised to honour financial commitments and improve the co-ordination of aid with national health plans of recipient countries.
The two leaders pointed out that the MDGs that focus on healthcare were the ‘least likely to be met’ by the agreed target date of 2015, adding that an ‘improved approach’ was needed. This would entail strengthening of ‘weak systems’ that suffer a lack of workers and clinics, and improving co-ordination of ‘complex’ and ‘fragmented health provision’.
Following their meeting, Prime Minister Brown said: ‘We re-affirm our commitment made at the G8 and the EU to provide the financing needed to meet our health commitments through the established institutions and mechanisms. In this context, the replenishment of the Global Fund will be a key step. We will also explore innovative financing mechanisms to meet these commitments.’
They two leaders stated: ‘We see this [the new partnership] as a critical step in our call for an international mobilisation of effort to achieve the MDGs that will build year on year until 2015. Our efforts must bring together the private sector, NGOs, faith groups, international agencies and governments in a new partnership to reduce poverty, improve health and provide opportunities for the poor across the world.’
During a press briefing, Chancellor Merkel added: ‘We strongly welcome the British initiative, which is aiming at us, combined with the Millennium Development Goals, and that is the health initiative that the British have proposed. We believe that it indeed offers us an opportunity to help us efficiently work towards our compliance with those Millennium Development Goals. I will be travelling to Africa very soon and I will do my best to canvas for their support.’