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Overseas Aid: Drugs and Surgery

Question for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

UIN HL596, tabled on 26 May 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases Our open letter on the UK cuts: A tragic blow for ‘global Britain’ and the world’s most vulnerable people, published on 29 April; and in particular its findings that (1) most of the 770 million medicines donated by pharmaceutical companies will not be delivered, and (2) 180,000 disability preventing surgical operations will not now go ahead, because of cuts in Overseas Development Assistance.

Answered on

10 June 2021

The seismic impact of the pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to make tough but necessary decisions, including exiting from some programmes such as Accelerating the Sustainable Control and Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) programme. The UK has made a significant contribution to global efforts to protect hundreds of millions of people from NTDs. Our programmes have delivered NTD treatment, care, and strengthened health systems to deliver these services going forward. We are currently working with partners, drug companies, donors, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to mitigate impacts, and to exit the programme as responsibly as possible within financial constraints. We continue to distribute drugs to fight NTDs, and perform surgeries in the most urgent cases.

Global health remains a top priority for UK ODA, and we will continue to be a major contributor in leading international action to strengthen global health security, and help build more resilient health systems. Departmental cross-government allocations of ODA spend for 2021/22 were laid out in a Written Ministerial Statement in Parliament on 21 April, and the Foreign Secretary has highlighted that the FCDO will spend £1,305 million on global health, which means we will remain among the most generous international donors.