Skip to main content

UK pledges zero at diseases conference – behind DR Congo

22 September 2022

MPs have expressed deep disappointment that the UK did not make a pledge at a conference to replenish a major fund fighting worldwide diseases, putting it behind the Democratic Republic of Congo, which donated $6m., and other much poorer nations. The United States led the big donors, giving $6bn.

The UK failure to donate took place in New York last night at the pledging conference for the The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a partnership of United Nations, national and private bodies.

Other countries – led by the United States, Nordic nations, France and Germany pledged more than $14bn. The UK has traditionally been a major donor to the Global Fund – delivering at least $1.4bn during the last pledging round.

The Global Fund recently reported that 50 million lives had been saved in the past 20 years thanks to the work of its partner organisations. The independent UK aid watchdog, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, said the Fund had “performed well despite the multiple challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic”. The watchdog said the number of deaths each year from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria had been slashed since 2002 by 70%, 21% and 26% respectively.

The Chair of the International Development Committee, Sarah Champion MP said:

“This is shameful. We know the Global Fund works well. We know it has saved many millions of lives. It is good value for money by anyone’s reckoning.

“The UK has pledged precisely nothing while our major partners in Europe and across the Atlantic give billions. The Democratic Republic of Congo has promised more than us. I am deeply disappointed. The government can still act – it can still pledge our rightful share in helping the fight against these dreadful diseases. It should do so as soon as possible.

“The UK’s stated goals in international development include improving global health - especially helping vulnerable women and girls. There is no question that the Global Fund can help us fulfill these goals. We should step up with at least as much funding as last time round”.

The Foreign Office recently announced a freeze on what it described as ‘non-essential’ foreign aid payments, citing budget pressures. When Sarah Champion MP asked the Foreign Office Minister, Vicky Ford MP, what this meant, Ms. Ford answered:

“We will prioritise spending that is vital to protect against immediate threat to life and wellbeing (…) in addition to considering the value for money of any decisions”.

Further information

Image: Crown Copyright