|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what help is given to sub-Saharan countries to replace and retrain health personnel recruited from those countries; and which countries (a) qualify and (b) do not qualify for this aid. 
Hilary Benn: DFID provides most of its support to Africa to 16 focus countries, as outlined in its public service agreement with the Treasury. It is committed to helping country Governments strengthen their health services. Health worker shortages are a complex issue, and go beyond migration and international recruitment. There are both pull factors that attract workers away from where they are needed and push factors that motivate them to leave. That is why DFID is not only working closely with African countries but also with the UK Department of Health on both sides of this issue.
The UK is the only developed country to implement systematic policies that explicitly prevent the targeting of developing countries in the international recruitment of health care professionals. DFID worked closely with the Department of Health to draw up a list of countries, which includes all the sub-Saharan African countries, from which the NHS does not actively recruit. In addition, the Department of Health has brokered a groundbreaking agreement for this code to apply to major players in the UK independent health care sector.
A shortage of workers is a symptom of a health service in crisis. Health workers leave their jobs because of a lack of housing and schools in underserved areas and because of a lack of opportunity for professional career development. This is coupled with poor pay and working conditions which prevent them from doing the jobs they have been trained for, by failing, for example, to provide the required drugs and equipment. All this is exacerbated by HIV/AIDS. Workloads are heavier and health-workers themselves are dying.
The UK invests substantially in health, supporting African country Governments to strengthen their health services and systems. We use a variety of means to do this, either through support to international agencies, direct support to Government budgets, by pooling our funds with other donors or through projects. This is complemented by operational research. For example, in Malawi, where the shortage of health workers is particularly severe, we provide £100 million support for the health sector of which £55 million is earmarked for the Emergency Human Resources programme. This programme focuses on improving recruitment and retention through salary increases for health workers, expanding training capacity; doubling the number of nurses and tripling the number of doctors in training; and using international volunteer physicians and nurse tutors while more Malawians are being trained. The programme is also bolstering human resources planning and management capacity in Malawi's Ministry of Health.
Hilary Benn: Under the terms of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed on 9 January 2005, free and fair elections shall be held throughout Sudan by mid-2008. We have not yet finalised our plans for assistance to south Sudan in advance of these elections. We are working in close co-ordination with partners to ensure that the international community provides full support, including provision of political education in the south of Sudan in the run up to these elections. We are also beginning a training and capacity support programme for national political parties. The UK is providing £288 million in humanitarian and development assistance to Sudan over the period 2005 to 2008.
Hilary Benn: Across the whole of Darfur, there are 1.8 million internally displaced people and 3.4 million dependent on humanitarian assistance. The priority is to provide help and protection for them, and to find a political solution that will allow people to return home and rebuild their lives. In the South of Sudan the humanitarian situation remains fragile. Pockets of instability, noticeably in the Upper Nile, Eastern and Western Equatoria, have resulted in continued internal displacement.
Although the massive humanitarian effort in Darfur has had a positive impact on malnutrition and mortality rates, the region remains highly dependant on food aid. Instability, fighting and banditry in South and West Darfur, particularly along the border zone with Chad, is severely hampering humanitarian agencies operating in those areas. Violence and attacks on humanitarian agencies' staff and assets has lead to a reduction in presence, and total withdrawals in some areas, by both the UN and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
The UK is the second largest donor in Darfur (after the US), providing over £96 million since the crisis started in September 2003. These funds have been channelled through both UN agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and have meant that thousands of vulnerable people have been provided with shelter, food, water and basic health care. DFID have committed a further £67 million to humanitarian relief in Sudan in 200607. As part of this commitment, the UK is providing £40 million to the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), a pioneering multi-donor fund, administered by the UN humanitarian co-ordinator. This new mechanism will help enable the UN to react more quickly and more flexible to both identified and unforeseen needs, not only in Darfur but across all of Sudan.
In addition to funding vital NGO humanitarian programmes in the South, the UK is providing financial support to an emergency response fund for the South to deal with emergencies, such as the cholera outbreak. For longer term recovery and development, the UK is establishing the £10 million service delivery fund which we hope will be able to move quickly to support the basic provision of education, health, and water and sanitation. This will act as a bridge to the Multi-Donor Trust Fund while it develops projects for funding to meet longer term development needs.
13 Mar 2006 : Column 1944W
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps the Government are taking to ensure that the aid arising from the pledges of Oslo donors is distributed to all parts of Sudan. 
Hilary Benn: We are using two multilateral instruments to ensure that our aid assistance achieves national coverage. Firstly, we have allocated £40 million to the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF). This fund is managed by the UN humanitarian co-ordinator, allowing him to fund humanitarian priorities across the whole of Sudan (in 2006 almost 42 per cent. of the CHF was allocated to the South). Secondly, we pledged at the 2005 Oslo donors' conference, a contribution of £47 million to the two World Bank managed Multi-Donor Trust Funds (MDTF) (£23.5 million each). MDTF-National covers the war-affected areas of the North and the three transition zones of Abyei, Upper Nile, and Nuba Mountains; and the MDTF-South is for South Sudan. We have also established a £17.2 million Basic Services Fund which we are using to support non-governmental organisations to provide essential services in education, health and water/sanitation in the most deprived areas of South Sudan before the MDTF-South comes on stream.
Finally, we are turning our attention to the East of Sudan (which has some of the poorest human development indicators in the country) and we have started a £2 million Chronic Poverty Fund, concentrating on Red sea state.
Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what British Army units will form the (a) in theatre reserve and (b) out of theatre reserve for the 16 Air Assault Brigade deployment to Afghanistan in the summer of 2007; 
John Reid: 16 Air Assault Brigade will deploy in the summer of 2006 as part of the United Kingdom contribution to the NATO-led international security assistance force (ISAF). Provision of reserves for ISAF is the responsibility of NATO. Under current arrangements, ISAF can be reinforced 'over the horizon' by elements of the NATO strategic reserve force (SRF), and although the NATO response force (NRF), which is under UK leadership until July, does not act as a reserve as one of its routine missions, it too could be called upon in extremis to provide support. Theatre level reserves should be provided by allies through the NATO force generation process.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|