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15 Dec 2003 : Column 721W—continued

Mr. Andrew Smith

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what working arrangements there have been between Mr. Andrew Smith and his Department in Sierra Leone in the last 12 months. [142189]

Hilary Benn: There have been no such working arrangements.

Non-effective Anti-malarials

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what research he has undertaken into the distribution of non-effective anti-malarials to African countries; and what plans he has to discuss this with the (a) Global Fund and (b) World Health Organisation. [142182]

Hilary Benn: Death from malaria, due to poor management of the disease, is increasing in Africa. Evidence suggests that this is in part due to drug resistance. The World Health Organisation (WHO) provides recommendations for anti-malarial drug policy based on sound evidence. WHO and Roll Back Malaria provide technical support to governments and their decision on national policies for anti-malarial drug policy. DFID provides financial support to WHO and Roll Back Malaria.

We support the process whereby existing treatment protocols are reviewed regularly in the light of evidence from the field and changing patterns of resistance. We support national governments to help strengthen health systems to deliver effective treatment for poor people. A team from DFID will be meeting with Roll Back Malaria partners in Geneva shortly and we will raise these issues with them.

Reproductive Health

Chris McCafferty: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what financial support his Department has provided for reproductive health supplies in each of the last three years; [143296]

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Hilary Benn: With permission, I will reply to all six questions together. Reproductive health supplies are normally provided as an integral part of broader programmes to promote sexual and reproductive health and prevent HIV/AIDS. The Department for International Development (DFID)'s data capture systems do not, therefore, allow us to isolate expenditure specifically on provision of reproductive health supplies.

DFID spent a total of over £270 million on reproductive health and HIV/AIDS programmes in the financial year 2002–03, up from around £40 million in 1997–98. DFID is one of the leading bilateral providers of condoms and other reproductive health commodities to developing countries. We are supporting a number of male and female condom social marketing programmes that combine condom procurement and distribution with encouraging behaviour change, communication and capacity building.

The Government have also committed £16 million (over five years) to the Medical Research Council's microbicide development programme. This promises to be an important new technology that, like female condoms, will empower women to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections.

Condoms or drugs alone are not the answer to tackling HIV/AIDS. We regard provision of reproductive health supplies as an integral part of DFID's wide-ranging support for reproductive health. This includes HIV/AIDS programmes, prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, family planning and maternal and adolescent health. The fight against HIV/AIDS must include effective public programmes involving education, prevention, treatment, care and support and impact mitigation.

Examples of reproductive health and HIV/AIDS programmes supported by DFID that include provision of reproductive health supplies are:

DFID supports a £15 million HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care Project in China, which includes working with vulnerable groups, such as commercial sex workers, through civil society organisations. To date, this work has been focussed on reducing risk and vulnerability through increased condom use, access to education and health services. Government capacity to address the rights of children vulnerable to or affected by HIV and the need to address the gender dimensions of HIV and poverty are being given renewed attention.

More widely, DFID provides technical assistance to strengthen local capacity for health sector planning in a number of countries, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ghana, Nepal and Tanzania.

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The Government are also a major donor to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and supports the Fund's work to provide the widest achievable range of safe and effective family planning and contraceptive methods, including condoms to prevent HIV/AIDS. This includes providing technical assistance to strengthen local planning capacity. DFID's core support has increased from £15 million a year up to 2001–02 to £ 18million a year from 2002–03 (planned) until 2005–06. We intend to enter into a funding arrangement with UNFPA for several years ahead, to coincide with their work programme, which will give them greater stability of funding. We have no plans to make an additional grant to UNFPA in the current financial year for provision of reproductive health commodities in addition to the core grant.

The UK played a leading role in setting up the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM), which is now an important source of funding for HIV/AIDS programmes. In July 2003 the UK pledged an additional US$80 million to GFATM (US$40 million per annum over two further years). This will extend our current commitment to 2008 and bring our total contribution to US$280 million.

The Government also support reproductive health activities at a country level. DFID works through Sector Wide Approaches and Direct Budget Support as ways of supporting countries' own development frameworks, which are often in the form of Poverty Reduction Strategies. We work to ensure that sufficient attention is given to reproductive health issues, including the supply and availability of reproductive health commodities. In many circumstances, for example in Cambodia, DFID is also continuing to ring-fence support for reproductive health and HIV/AIDS work, including the supply of reproductive health commodities. The most recent data shows that, in the financial year 2002–03, out of a total of £96 million spent by DFID on Sector Wide Approaches, £31 million (32 per cent.) was spent on programmes that had reproductive health services as one of their target objectives. We work with partners to increase access by poor people to good quality reproductive and sexual health care and services.

On 1 December—World AIDS Day—the UK Government launched their Call for Action on HIV/AIDS. Details on this can be obtained by contacting: The Call for Action challenges the international community to intensify its efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS and to achieve real progress towards the international targets.

Research Strategy

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what development problems his Department is seeking to resolve through research. [142643]

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Hilary Benn: The current research programme covers a very wide variety of development problems. DFID supports major research programmes, either alone or with other funders, on:

I will also write to the hon. Member with some recent examples of DFID-funded research having an impact on poverty.

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on his Department's research strategy. [142644]

Hilary Benn: Following a review of DFID research last year, entitled "Research for Poverty Reduction", the Department is preparing a new research strategy which I hope to publish early in the new year.

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the remit of the Policy Division within his Department. [142645]

Hilary Benn: Policy Division's role is to develop evidence-based, innovative approaches to development, which make a real difference to the poor. Policy Division has been set up to react flexibly to changing needs and priorities. The main areas of work are Aid Effectiveness, Growth, Working in Difficult Environments, Service Delivery, Future Challenges, and Research.

Policy Division has four equally weighted functions:

All Policy Division teams are focussed on producing work that can be put to practical use in the field of poverty reduction.

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Policy Division has four Public Service Agreement/Service Delivery Agreement (PSA/SDA) targets:

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