Lack Of Discussion On Health Implications Of U.K. Withdrawal Of Aid To South Africa ‘Disappointing’

Noting “the U.K.’s International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, [in April] announced that Britain’s bilateral development program in South Africa would end in 2015, on the grounds of South Africa’s enormous political and economic progress,” a Lancet editorial writes, “The withdrawal decision … was regarded as ‘unilateral’ by South Africa’s government, who claimed it would have ‘far-reaching implications’ and would be ‘tantamount to redefining’ the two countries’ relationship. In response, the U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the U.K. would clear up any confusion with the South African government.” The editorial continues, “Disappointingly, the essential issue of health has not been part of the discussion.”

“This bilateral development program, currently worth £19 million [$29.2 million] annually, will focus in its final two years on finishing projects that will help reduce the number of women dying in childbirth by more than 10 percent and also that support businesses,” the editorial notes, and asks, “Considering the current maternal health status in South Africa, can the £19 million per year package help achieve the target in reducing maternal death by 2015?” The Lancet continues, “Health is without doubt a key part of the U.K.-South African bilateral partnership,” concluding, “While the U.K. and South Africa are trying to resolve this misunderstanding, it is crucial for both sides to assess how important the U.K.’s aid is to health care in South Africa and the implications for global health from stopping aid” (5/11).

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