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11 Oct 1999 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday, 11th October 1999.

Kosovo and Bosnia: Health Programmes

Baroness Park of Monmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which countries other than the United Kingdom are providing medical support and at what level in (a) Kosovo and (b) Bosnia.[HL3954]

Baroness Amos: The World Health Organisation is the lead agency for co-ordinating assistance in the health sector in Kosovo. They have provided us with the following information on other donor activity.

The United States is providing £13.29 million of support to the health sector in Kosovo. This consists of £1.256 million for a reproductive health programme, £0.63 million for a primary healthcare programme through NGOs, £5.063 million for an immunisation programme through UNICEF, and a £6.33 million psycho-social healthcare programme also through UNICEF.

The European Commission is putting £2.275 million into the health sector. This consists of £1.3 million for a drug supply and management service through Pharmaciens Sans Frontieres, £0.65 million for a primary health care programme through Medecins du Monde, and £0.325 million for a disability programme through Handicap International.

The German Red Cross is carrying out a £69,000 programme of emergency relief support. The Italians are supporting primary and secondary healthcare in the Pec and Djakovica areas (figures not available).

In Bosnia, the main health programme is the World Bank's “Essential Hospital Services" project, which aims to support the development of a modern, cost effective and sustainable hospital sub sector. The total cost of this is £21.2 million over three years. Other than the UK, the main bilateral contributors to the project are Italy, focusing on mental health and primary health care (£3.29 million), and the Netherlands (£1 million) on mental health training.

The other major donor in this sector is the EC, through its drug quality control programme (£0.974 million); and primary health care development project (£1.623 million).

Horn of Africa: Food Aid

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they intend to take to help the millions of people facing severe hunger as a result of wars and drought in the Horn of Africa, in the light of the United Nations appeal for £5 million to avert a disaster in Ethiopia alone.[HL3888]

Baroness Amos: We are concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Ethiopia and

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elsewhere in the Horn of Africa. In the case of Ethiopia, we have provided 6,000 tonnes of grain through the Save the Children Fund since January 1999. We are currently considering a proposal to provide a further 10,000 tonnes through the United Nations World Food Programme. We are also considering supporting non-government organisation proposals for medical nutritional support.

Sierra Leone

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps the Secretary of State for International Development took towards reversing the criminalisation of Sierra Leone during her visit from 19-21 July.[HL3889]

Baroness Amos: My right honourable friend has undertaken to support the Sierra Leonean Government as they implement their peace agreement. This will include, as an immediate priority, help to set up an anti-corruption unity.

Development Aid and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it remains government policy that the provision of aid should not be linked to compliance with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.[HL3989]

Baroness Amos: Amongst our development partners, only India and Pakistan have conducted nuclear tests but are not signatories to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. In the light of those tests last year, G8 Foreign Ministers agreed that they would seek to postpone loans by the international finance institutions (IFIs) to India and Pakistan, and to any other country which conducted a nuclear test, unless the loans are in support of basic human needs. We continue to judge each IFI loan on its merits, against that criterion. The G8 also made clear, however, that the poor of India and Pakistan should not be punished for the decisions of their governments. We have therefore continued our bilateral development co-operation programmes, which are firmly focused on reducing poverty, in both countries. We continue to urge both India and Pakistan to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and to take the other non-proliferation steps identified in UNSCR 1172.

Income and Health Differentials

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the present differentials in incomes and health, and what are the current trends (a) in the United Kingdom; (b) in the European Union; (c) in the United States; (d) in the 40 poorest countries of the world; and (e) globally; whether these statistics

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    indicate that polarisation is increasing in the populations listed above; and, if so, what is their view of the political, social and economic consequences of this situation.[HL3878]

Baroness Amos: Government analysis has focused on income and health differentials and trends in the UK and worldwide. Information on differentials and trends in other areas can be found in the 1996 UN Development Programme Human Development Report. I enclose a copy and shall arrange for copies to be placed in the Library of the House.

In the UK, income differentials have widened since the mid-1980s. The disposable incomes of households at the 90th percentile of the income distribution were 4.5 times higher than incomes for those at the 10th percentile in 1997-98, compared to 4.2 times higher in 1995-96, 4.9 times higher in 1990 and 3.7 times higher in 1986. Health differentials have also widened over recent years. For example, a twofold difference in all-cause mortality between social classes I and V among working age men in the early 1970s had widened to a three-fold difference by the early 1990s. Reducing the health gap is a main aim of the Government's health strategy, as set out in the recent White Paper, Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation.

Worldwide differentials are more pronounced. The combined GDP of all Low Income Countries in 1997 was $753 billion, compared to $22,848 billion for all High Income Countries. However, as GDP grew by 3.9 per cent in Low Income Countries between 1990 and 1997, compared to 2.2 per cent in High Income Countries, the gap is narrowing slightly. Key health differentials, already wide, have been getting wider. For example, in 1990-95, the Infant Mortality Rate in Least Developed Countries was 109 per 1000 and had fallen by 1.5 per cent per annum over the previous 20 years, while in developed countries the rate was only 11 per 1000 and had fallen by 3.5 per cent per annum over the same period.

Widening inequalities in economic well-being and health are socially divisive, economically damaging, morally unacceptable, and prone to exacerbate political tensions within and between countries. The Government's determination to reduce these global inequalities is demonstrated in their commitment to mobilise the political will to realise the international target of reducing by half the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015, together with the other international development targets, including those for health and education. The Government's resolve is further reflected in their provision of an additional £1.6 billion of spending authority for development assistance over the years 1999-2000 to 2001-02, and the priority they are giving to improving the effectiveness of development co-operation.


Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, as part of their Health Impact Assessment, they will collect information showing

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    what percentage of sufferers from malnutrition are (a) on means tested Social Security benefits; and (b) disentitled to means tested benefits to which their means would otherwise have entitled them.[HL3983]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): We have no plans to collect the information requested. The government programme for monitoring nutritional status has shown that although most people are adequately nourished, there is a persistent rise in obesity. Eating a healthy and balanced diet and keeping physically active help people to maintain a healthy body weight.

The Government's Action Report Reducing Health Inequalities details what is the most comprehensive and broad programme of work ever taken to tackle health inequalities in this country.

European Commission: Information Programme for European Citizens

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the European Commission's Information Programme for European Citizens (Prince) was first introduced; what annual expenditures have been financed under it; and what is the treaty article on which the Commission's programme is based.[HL3359]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The European Commission's Information Programme for European Citizens (Prince) was included in the Commission budget for the first time in 1995. Since 1995 the annual commitments have been: 1995 0.5 million ECU, 1996 15 million ECU, 1997 30 million ECU, 1998 27 million ECU, and 1999 37.64 million ECU.

The funding of this programme is subject to the InterInstitutional Agreement on Legal Bases and Implementation of the Budget, 10893/98, on which an explanatory memorandum was submitted in October 1998.

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