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Africa: Maternal Mortality

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with his counterparts in the United Nations on additional measures to arrest the recent rise in the number of maternal deaths in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Ghana; and if he will make a statement. [131287]

Hilary Benn: In Ghana, measurements of the Maternal Mortality Ratio are unreliable. The latest official figures are based on the 1993 Demographic Health Survey (DHS) when it was estimated to be 214 per 100,000 live births. A draft review of health sector performance for 2006 suggests a downward trend and an estimated maternal mortality rate of 187 per 100,000 live births. These figures need to be interpreted with care. At country level, discussions with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) are taking place over the measurements of maternal mortality in the 2008 Demographic Health Survey and/or the 2010 Census.

Development partners including DFID together with the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNFPA and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), are discussing within the framework of annual plans of the health Sector Wide Approach (SWAp) and the new five-year health sector plan (2007-11), the implementation of package health interventions. This is aimed at accelerating progress towards Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 around safe motherhood strategies, improving access to and quality of emergency obstetric care and the promotion of child spacing.

Malawi's 2004 DHS shows a slight decline in the Maternal Mortality Ratio from the 2000 DHS figure of 1,120 per 100,000 live births, to 984 per 100,000 live births. This is unacceptably high.

DFID has committed £100 million over six years to the Government of Malawi-led health SWAp (2004-05-2010-11). Of this, £55 million will address the human resource crisis through salary top-ups to recruit and retain staff, improved training and, as a stop-gap measure, providing expatriate volunteers to fill training and specialists positions. £45 million will finance the Essential Health Package including improved facilities, drugs and other supplies.

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On 30 March Malawi's Minister of Health, Marjorie Ngaunje, launched Malawi's 'Road Map' to reduce maternal and neonatal deaths in Malawi under the SWAp. This strategy aims to strengthen service delivery at all levels of the health system and the capacity of individuals and communities to improve maternal and neonatal health. Districts have also been able to 'kick start' action on maternal health using flexible funds from the SWAp. This includes the signing of 47 service level agreements with the Christian Health Association of Malawi to remove user fees for maternal services and using locum payments to midwives to go to health centres to cover staff shortages.

The UN (UNFPA, WHO and UNICEF) supported the development of Malawi's Road Map. The UN and DFID sit together on the sectoral level Sexual and Reproductive Health Technical Working Group which coordinates stakeholder support to the implementation of this government-led strategy.

In Zimbabwe, maternal mortality has worsened significantly in the last 15 years, due mainly to the HIV and AIDS epidemic, deteriorating health services and increasing barriers to access including user fees. Recent figures estimate that the lifetime risk of a woman dying of pregnancy or childbirth related clauses is one in 16 or 6,250 per 100,000.

DFID is working with the UN (UNFPA and UNICEF) and civil society organisations to develop a joint programme to reduce maternal and infant mortality. DFID will contribute £25 million over five years. This programme aims to protect the lives of mothers and newborns, especially those affected by HIV and AIDS and to maintain access to family planning services, including contraceptives and to lifesaving obstetric services and newborn care. The programme will build the evidence base about obstacles to sexual and reproductive care, infant feeding for HIV exposed babies after six months, and will support a national maternal and prenatal mortality study in Zimbabwe in order to inform policy options.

Burma: Overseas Aid

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will take steps to increase financial support provided for projects promoting (a) human rights and (b) democracy in Burma. [130530]

Mr. Thomas: DFID already provides significant support to projects to help the people of Burma access their human rights and build the foundations for sustainable democracy. Our programme includes a wide variety of activities, such as capacity-building for local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), training for journalists, work to involve poor people in decision-making about issues that affect them, and support for the empowerment of poor women. In addition, the British embassy in Rangoon is carrying out extremely valuable work to build local capacity.

DFID is about to start work on the implementation of a £3 million programme designed to expand and strengthen DFID's work to support increased prospects for a successful transition to democracy and respect for human rights in Burma. The programme will increase opportunities for Burma's people to engage in political decision-making processes at the local level affecting their welfare, livelihoods and governance.

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John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development why his Department has ended funding for the Burma projects of the BBC World Service Trust. [130608]

Mr. Thomas: DFID has recently only supported one BBC World Service Trust project in Burma: a grant of £1,997,513 for a radio soap opera to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in audiences in Burma. The project started in January 2003 and was to last three years. By late 2005, the project was spending DFID's grant more slowly than budgeted, so we agreed an extension until September 2006. A review at that point judged that the project was judged likely partly to achieve its purpose. When the project managers requested a further extension we declined in order to focus our resources on other projects which we judged would be even more effective in reducing poverty in Burma.

Cocoa: Imports

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will meet (a) UK chocolate manufacturers and (b) others in the cocoa industry to urge them to provide a Traffik Free Guarantee for the cocoa they (i) harvest, (ii) import and (iii) use; and if he will make a statement. [124197]

Mr. Thomas: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has no immediate plans to meet with chocolate manufacturers to discuss the use of child labour in the production of cocoa, but he met with Cadbury Schweppes at the end of last year and has met with Stop the Traffik. In addition, the UK Government have been engaging with the International Cocoa Initiative, which was set up by the chocolate manufacturers to address concerns about the use of the worst forms of child labour in cocoa production. The Initiative is focusing on surveying working practices in Ghana and Ivory Coast to identify what activities in the production of cocoa would fall into the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) definition of the worst forms of child labour, how widespread these activities are and how best to tackle them. In doing this the International Cocoa Initiative is working closely with the governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast. The Secretary of State discussed the work of the International Cocoa Initiative when he met representatives of Cadbury Schweppes on 2 October. A progress report on the Initiative’s work was given to the chocolate manufacturers and other interested parties at a meeting of the Cocoa Task Force hosted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 22 February this year.

The Secretary of State met with Stop the Traffik, the campaign group behind the Traffik Free Guarantee, on 13 February where they discussed forced labour in cocoa production.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Overseas Aid

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development by which aid modality the Environmental Transportation Fund for the Congo Basin announced in the Budget will be delivered; what proportion will be delivered to the 10 country recipients by direct budget support; and if he will make a statement. [131309]

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Mr. Thomas: The UK is committing £50 million of the £800 million international environmental transformation fund to support on conservation of the Congo basin's forests, associated livelihoods and civil society participation. The countries concerned are Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Sao Tome.

Funds will be managed by a multilateral development bank and decisions on allocation of funds will be taken by a steering board including representatives of central African countries, donors and civil society. The governance framework is intended to ensure African ownership, effective outcomes, good financial management, and protect the livelihoods and rights of forest people. The UK will work with the Congo Basin countries, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and other potential donors on the details of this governance framework.

The UK's £50 million contribution is for the 10 central African countries as a whole and will finance practical actions at a country level as well as at a regional level. In some countries this may result in a proportion of funding being delivered via direct budget support. Decisions about the means of delivering assistance will be taken by the Steering Board.

Departments: Advertising

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 19 February 2007, Official Report, columns 69-70W, on Departments: advertising, if he will place in the Library a copy of the contract with the newspaper for (a) sponsoring the supplement and (b) the advertorials. [129868]

Mr. Thomas: For the supplement, ‘Eliminating Poverty’ a summary of the UK Government's 2006 White Paper on International Development, DFID, through the Central Office of Information (COI), commissioned a separate media buying company to negotiate with The Guardian in order to obtain the best possible rates. There was no written contract between the media company and The Guardian. DFID was billed for the work by COI.

DFID is unable to place the contract for the G8 One Year On Observer supplement, advertorials, and Guardian Unlimited microsite in the Library, as this would be a breach of commercial confidentiality.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department spent on (a) sponsoring newspaper or publication supplements and (b) funding advertorials in newspapers and publications in the last year for which figures are available; and what the topic of each was. [129954]

Mr. Thomas: The Department for International Development (DFID) has spent the following on sponsoring newspapers or publication supplements and advertorials in the last year for which figures are available, and the topic of each are as follows:

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Supplements Cost (inc. VAT) Date Topic

Newspaper Supplement in The Guardian


July 2006

Eliminating World Poverty—a summary of the UK Government’s 2006 White Paper on International Development, setting out an action plan for the next five years.

Newspaper supplement in The Observer. This price included putting the information on a microsite on the Guardian Unlimited website; it also included 8,000 for advertorials to promote the supplement in The Guardian.


June 2006

Reporting the progress made one year after the G8 summit in Gleneagles, with a special focus on Africa and responding to climate change.

Departments: Pressure Groups

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what meetings took place between Ministers in his Department and outside interest groups between 1 January and 31 March; and what the date was of each such meeting. [131034]

Hilary Benn: My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development and I met with the following outside interest groups during January to March 2007.

Secretary of State for International Development
Date Group

9 January

Portland Trust

16 January


24 January

Caritas—Catholic humanitarian organisation

24 January

De Beers—Corporate social responsibility

1 February

Commission of Global Road Safety

1 February

Global Water Partnership

14 February

BG Group

15 February


19 February


19 February

Palestine Solidarity Campaign

27 February


1 March

TUC Forum

8 March

PCS Union

20 March

Stop Aids Campaign

28 March

Quid Novi Ltd.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development
Date Group

9 January

Nitan Palan FCA

11 January

NGOs and Ian McCartney, MP—Economic Partnership Agreements

22 January

Chairman of Histadrut (Israel TUC)

23 January

Joyce Wood (Good Teachers)

24 January

Chairman of Trustees of Lady Fatemah’s Trust

25 January

Head of Public Affairs WWF

30 January

Keith Darwin—schools in India

8 February

Casa Alianza UK

20 February

Hugo Swire, MP and Lady Nott—The Fund for Refugees in Slovenia

21 February

Chris Mole, MP and Tools with a Mission

7 March


7 March

Alan Milburn and Professor David Kerr—Cancer Care in Africa

15 March


19 March

The Global Fund (to fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria)

28 March

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK Branch

20 March

Fairtrade Foundation

29 March

England and Wales Cricket Board—Tackling HIV/AIDS through sport

Developing Countries: Health Education

Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of sexual and reproductive health education programmes in post-conflict states; [129535]

(2) what support his Department provides to sexual and reproductive health education programmes in post-conflict states; [129537]

(3) what assessment he has made of the potential contribution of sexual and reproductive health education programmes towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. [129538]

Mr. Thomas: The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) especially those for reducing maternal and child deaths and HIV/AIDS will not be attained without progress in achieving sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.

This view was endorsed in 2006 when the UN Secretary General recommended a new target within the MDG monitoring framework of “universal access to reproductive health by 2015”. An essential element in achieving this will be ensuring that women and men, including young people, have access to condoms, contraceptives, medicines and other products, and the services, information and education they need to protect their sexual and reproductive health.

Conflict and post conflict states pose particular challenges if they are to meet the MDGs. DFID's recent White Paper “Making governance work for the poor” recognises that we must help people have security, incomes and public services. Effective states are central to development, so we must help countries—especially those at risk of falling even further behind the rest of the world—do better in ensuring security, achieving sustainable growth, and delivering health and education for all.

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