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AfGH statement in response to launch of FCDO’s Ending Preventable Deaths and Health Systems Strengthening Approach Papers

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shine a spotlight on health inequalities all around the world, Action for Global Health welcomes the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s Ending Preventable Deaths and Health Systems Strengthening Approach Papers.

These papers provide welcome emphasis on country leadership, strong, resilient health systems and gender equality and human rights as the cornerstone to end preventable deaths and ensure the universal right to health. As outlined, marginalised groups must be at the focus and helm for this progress to be inclusive and equitable. 

We also applaud the recognition that action on climate change and transforming water supply, sanitation and nutrition services will be necessary to support people to lead healthier lives. 

However, whilst these papers outline laudable aims, their implementation is entirely called into question by the cuts to the Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget. It is essential that the 0.7% budget is restored and the UK recommits funding to deliver on the ambitious global health vision outlined today.

Reactions from our network:

“THET applauds FCDO’s renewed emphasis on health system strengthening and the acknowledgement of how the UK can both contribute, drawing on our experience of delivering universal health care through the NHS since 1948, and learn from these partnerships to improve patient care overseas and at home. However, this work has been disproportionately affected by this year’s cuts to UK Aid. It is vital that funding for this approach is restored, and that the upcoming International Development Strategy gives full recognition of this opportunity for the UK to make a unique contribution globally.”

– Ben Simms, CEO, Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET)

“King’s Global Health Partnerships are delighted to see the UK government’s increased emphasis on high quality health care.  Although there have been improvements in health outcomes globally, 5 million people die each year in low- and middle-income countries  due to poor quality health care. These deaths could be avoided in a well-functioning health system that provides safe, effective and quality health care, delivered by a well-trained and motivated health workforce. FCDO now needs to increase investment in order to meet these ambitions.”

– Laura Hucks, Director, King’s Global Health Partnerships

“We welcome the EPD position paper launched today, but have serious concerns about the UK Government’s limited investment in ending preventable deaths – most recently through the missed opportunity to make a financial pledge at the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit last week. This is a decision which will not contribute to a reduction in preventable deaths – in fact, quite the opposite. To save lives, we must match our promises with appropriate funding for essential services like nutrition.”

– Aaron Oxley, Executive Director, RESULTS UK

“We welcome the UK Government’s emphasis on strengthening health systems as we know this is vital for protecting the lives of people with the least opportunities,  particularly those affected by NTDs. At SCI Foundation we work directly with Ministries of Health supporting country-led initiatives that we have seen promotes sustainability and improves health outcomes.”

– Wendy Harrison, Chief Executive Officer, SCI Foundation

“I welcome the UK’s government’s position paper on health systems strengthening with its emphasis on equity, rights-based approaches, inclusion, and multilateralism. In the context of COVID-19, I call on the government to go further, matching these fine words by reversing its ODA cuts and renewing its solidarity for the health of all people.”

– Professor Kent Buse, Director, Global Health Societies Program, The George Institute for Global Health 

“Frontline AIDS welcomes the FCDO’s new Ending Preventable Deaths Strategy and Health Systems Strengthening paper, and particularly the emphasis in these on ending AIDS, reaching the most underserved and marginalised groups, and investing in resilient community systems and responses. In order to equip the FCDO to implement these new strategies, we urge the UK Government to return overseas development assistance (ODA) to 0.7% and to increase the level of support, both financial and political, for global health.  Health must be recognized as a priority in the UK’s forthcoming international development strategies and on the global stage the UK must change its current positions and support critical global health solutions, particularly the transfer of technology for COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and treatment. “

Christine Stegling, Executive Director, Frontline AIDS 

“STOPAIDS welcomes the adoption of these papers that come at a critical time for global health. It is particularly encouraging to see that the FCDO will be taking a human-rights approach to all of health, that they see the value in defining health technologies as global public goods, and that they agree to the importance of ensuring people are not pushed into poverty because of the costs of health services. 

There are shared systemic barriers between the fight to end AIDS and to ensure all communities realise their right to health. In delivering on new FCDO strategies, these papers must be followed by Government action that urgently returns to the 0.7% spending commitment, as well as an early and ambitious pledge to the 7th replenishment of The Global Fund in 2022.”

– Saoirse Fitzpatrick, Advocacy Manager, STOPAIDS

“It is essential we invest in water, sanitation and hygiene, as it’s a first line of defence against future pandemics and emerging health threats and it builds a more sustainable and inclusive future after COVID-19.

Ultimately a healthcare facility without WASH is not a healthcare facility in any meaningful sense; it compromises patient and health worker safety and undermines the quality of care. Yet, in half of the 47 least developed countries across the globe, 50% of healthcare facilities lack basic water services.

The UK has been a long-standing leader on global health, but in recent years the spectre of the aid cuts has undermined this. If the UK follows through on the ambition set out in these strategies, including increasing financing, it could regain its position – and save many lives in the process.”

– Helen Hamilton, Senior Policy Analyst, Wateraid

“The launch of these papers is a step in the right direction. However, recent budget cuts to the FCDO’s programmes on sexual and reproductive health and rights make it nearly impossible for the Government to keep its promises on girls’ education and ending preventable maternal, new-born and child deaths.

We urge the UK Government to live up to its ambition of being a global champion of gender equality by committing to spending a minimum of £500 million per year between 2022 and 2025 on effective funding of sexual and reproductive health services. 

A strong commitment from the UK to boldly defend, progress and champion universal sexual and reproductive health and rights will not only save lives but also drive gender equality forward.”

– Rose Caldwell, CEO, Plan International UK

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