LibLink: Lindsay Northover: UK aid: High impact, low cost

Former Lib Dem International Development Minister Lindsay Northover has been writing for Politics Home about the benefits for both recipients and us at home in the UK of our international aid budget. This is very important to read when it is clear that this is the next target of the right wing media and political types.

She wrote of the impact on disease prevention:

Since 2000 and the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals, the world achieved its commitment to halve extreme poverty. The Sustainable Development Goals adopted globally in 2015 aim to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, leaving no one behind. That is a supreme challenge. But it is clearly the right thing to do and in our interest. The instability fostered in the world by poverty, migration, climate change, conflict, must be tackled collectively.

This is why my Lib Dem colleagues Michael Moore and Jeremy Purvis took their private member’s bill through Parliament in the last days of the Coalition to secure that future commitment of 0.7 percent of GNI on aid. Many members across both Houses helped us, together with NGOs, and tributes are paid to the UK internationally for making this commitment.

So let us look at disease control and elimination – which is just one area that the UK is a world leader in, but which is topical as we pass the fifth anniversary of the London Declaration in 2012, when a major increase of funding for neglected tropical diseases was announced.

UK aid has contributed to the 62 percent decline in malaria deaths between 2000 and 2015, the reduction of Guinea worm infection from 3.5 million people in 1986 to just 22 people in 2015, and played an important role in the near eradication of polio worldwide. For my generation, knowing the fear of polio, and being familiar with those so terribly disabled by the disease here in Britain, that is a stunning achievement.

And how is this good for us?

Improving global health abroad benefits UK citizens at home too. By investing in health infrastructure overseas, the UK has increased its own health security in relation to dangerous epidemics, such as Ebola or Zika. These diseases threaten all societies if they are not properly monitored and contained. Improved disease surveillance, better epidemic response and powerful new tools, such as vaccines and better diagnostics, are helping to protect us from the next big global disease threat.

It is clear that there are strong mutual benefits to maintaining the UK aid budget at 0.7 percent. Alleviating poverty, tackling global health challenges and strengthening economies reduce the likelihood of conflict, mass migration and the need to provide aid in the future. For less than one percent of our national income, foreign aid is a low-cost and effective investment that benefits us all.

You can read the whole article here.

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One Comment

  • I think most people support foreign aid, the argument is in how it is targeted, for example giving hundreds of millions per year to a government with its own space programme and who describe the aid as ‘peanuts’ but still take it is not a good advert. Also why should the budget be inviolate when so many public services at home could benefit from an injection of a few billion per annum. People often get lured into thinking a few hundred million here or there is nothing to worry about in the grand scheme of things. The total annual spend on the treatment sector in which I work is £500,000000.00. So it becomes irritating when some people shrug off sums this size as being irrelevant or not worth worrying about if poorly spent, skimmed off the top or simply stolen.
    Disease control, disaster relief, education, I doubt many people have a problem with funding these things, so long as the spending is planned, proportionate, can demonstrate value for money and is kept under review.

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