I welcome the recently published UNICEF 'Future at Risk' report. This report notes that the pandemic is exerting severe pressure on essential and life-saving health services in many, particularly poor, countries around the world, which threatens to increase levels of maternal and child mortality - and thus global progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3. Unless decisive action is taken now past progress towards this goal - as with many others, like education (SDG 4) - risks being erased altogether.
UNICEF also notes the UK’s role at the forefront of global health agendas for decades, and with an exceptional aid track record. I am confident that current and future development efforts will continue to honour this reputation. In 2020, for instance, the UK pledged a total of £166million dedicated to tackling food insecurity and to provide aid to more than 7 million vulnerable people in some of the world’s most dangerous places.
There has been a call for the UK to publish a plan for ending the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children. Ministers have been clear that the UK's approach to this issue will be informed by the outcomes of the Integrated Review, which includes a review of foreign policy, which is the right approach in my view. I believe it is best to wait until the Review has concluded before the UK commits itself to a detailed course of action on this issue.
I also agree with the recommendation that the UK should aim to lead global efforts to build resilient health systems. The Prime Minister has already set out a five-point plan to strengthen health systems against global health crises, and committed to putting girls' education and empowerment, including reproductive health, on the global agenda as part of our Presidency of the G7 this year.
You can find a copy of the report by clicking on the link below: