British Prime Minister To Unveil $1B Effort To Improve Health Systems In Developing Countries

During the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday is scheduled to announce that Britain is teaming up with Norway, the Netherlands and Australia to invest $1 billion to strengthen the health systems in developing countries, the Financial Times/NineMSN reports (Jack, 9/21).

“The money – nearly half of which will come from the UK – will be channelled through the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), which already funds major programmes to protect children from diseases including measles, meningitis, pneumonia and diphtheria,” the newspaper writes. “But, in a move away from its original remit, GAVI will distribute the money not only to support vaccination but also to improve health systems in the 72 poorest countries in the world,” the Guardian reports. According to the Guardian, countries will be able to apply to GAVI for grants to train medical professionals, improve hospital and clinic buildings and expand drug supply (Boseley, 9/22).

The prime minister’s announcement “marks an effort to revitalise lagging progress toward U.N. millennium development goals by 2015 at a time of slowed funding after the global financial crisis, and reflects particular concern that efforts to reduce child and maternal deaths have been disappointing,” the Financial Times/NineMSN reports (9/21).

Also on Wednesday, Brown will chair a meeting focused “on the issue of health care provision for developing countries” as part of the General Assembly meeting, where he “plans to push for access to free healthcare for pregnant women, young mothers and children and scrap health charges,” reports. According to the news service, “Brown hopes to convince other world leaders to meet the previously agreed millennium development goal to reduce maternal and child mortality by 75 percent by 2015” (Stephens, 9/22).

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