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Five years ago today, the Commission for Africa launched a groundbreaking report that helped to set in motion a year of remarkable achievements in the fight against global poverty.

From the Make Poverty History movement and Live 8 to the agreements that were made at Gleneagles to cancel debt and increase aid, the events of 2005 have made a lasting and positive impact on the lives of millions of the world’s poorest people.

Forty million more children are in school than a decade ago. The number of people with access to treatment for AIDS has increased from just 100,000 to over four million. The proportion of the world’s population living in poverty has fallen from a third to a quarter. This did not happen by accident, but because of the commitment of peoples and governments to make a difference.

Yet when world leaders gather in New York this September for a summit to review progress towards the Millennium Development Goals to tackle hunger, illiteracy and disease, they will see that in many of the world’s poorest countries, efforts must be accelerated if we are to reach the goals by 2015.

Ten years after the world pledged to ‘spare no effort’ to free men, women and children from extreme poverty, more than half a million women every year die in pregnancy or childbirth, more than 72 million children are still denied an education, and more than a billion people are going hungry.

At the same time, the impact of the global economic crisis threatens to push as many as 64 million more people into extreme poverty, and the growing problem of climate change is already bringing drought and flooding to those communities least able to cope.

That is why today I have invited some of the world’s leading international development experts to a conference in London today to examine how we can ensure that 2010 is a turning point in the effort to eliminate global poverty.

Our task today will be to consider what actions the international community needs to take to reach the Millennium Development Goals. This should then inform a new global development action plan which we will press to be agreed by world leaders in New York this September.

In the same way that the Commission for Africa report paved the way for a year of action to tackle poverty, I believe that we can help to create the momentum for a step change in global efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Make no mistake – the world can, with the right effort, meet those goals. We can collectively draw on a decade of experience from the front line of fighting poverty.

To tackle hunger we know that we must increase food production to meet the needs of a growing global population, ensure that the poorest have access to the food that is available, and ensure that the most vulnerable – pregnant women and newborn babies – have access to decent nutrition.

That is why the Department for International Development is this week setting out how we will improve the nutrition of at least 12 million children over the next five years. The UK is playing our part – and we want to see a new global programme to tackle nutrition agreed in September.

To get all children into school we know that the world must do more in rural areas, to support children with disabilities, to support girls from all walks of life and in countries affected by conflict. The United Kingdom will support more than five million children around the world to go to school. It is time for other international partners to step up their efforts in response.

We can prevent the deaths of thousands of women and millions of children around the world. The experience of the past ten years has shown us that the right investments save lives. That is why I am announcing today that the United Kingdom will invest £150 million in a drive on immunisation that will help prevent more than 4 million deaths worldwide and help provide two new vaccines against diarrhoea and pneumonia – two of the biggest child killers.

One of the greatest contributions that can be made to improving the health of mothers and children is making health care free. Since free health care was announced in Burundi four years ago, the proportion of babies born in health units has increased from one-fifth to over a half. In Ghana, just a few months after the Government announced that pregnant women could receive free health care, more than 430,000 pregnant women had registered to receive their new rights.

Last September at the UN General Assembly, six countries announced their commitment for increasing access to health for poor people – giving up to ten million more people in total access to free health care.

Britain is supporting those countries to deliver free access to healthcare. Today we are launching, with the support of the Danish Government, a Centre for Progressive Health Financing that will provide expertise to help countries that want to provide free health care for women and children to make that vision a reality.

The UK will play our part in the global effort to fight extreme poverty, and turn the world’s promises into action. These Millennium Development Goals have the power to save millions of lives, to give every person the ability to read and write, and to save millions from hunger. But only if all of us – governments, aid agencies, charities, businesses and people of conscience everywhere – have the determination to make it happen.

Douglas Alexander MP, is Secretary of State for International Development

Comments

Whre's the money coming from?
thorntongate wrote:
Thursday, 11 March 2010 at 01:05 pm (UTC)
I nearly forgot.

We're going to borrow it.
Re: Whre's the money coming from?
robert_price wrote:
Thursday, 11 March 2010 at 02:30 pm (UTC)
Where's the money going?

Arms dealers, large development corporations, friends of western governments etc...
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