Thank you for sharing UNICEF's recently published 'Future at Risk' report with me.
The report is correct to note that the Covid-19 pandemic is exerting severe pressure on essential and life-saving health services in many countries around the world, which threatens to increase levels of maternal and child mortality, and thus global progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3. Unless decisive action is taken now, past progress towards this goal risks being erased altogether.
I am proud that UNICEF notes that the UK has been at the forefront of global health agendas for decades, with an exceptional aid track record. I am confident that current and future development efforts will honour this reputation. In 2020, for instance, the UK pledged a total of £166 million dedicated to tackling food insecurity and to provide aid to more than 7 million vulnerable people in some of the world’s most dangerous places.
I appreciate the call for the UK to publish a plan for ending preventable deaths of mothers, new-borns and children. However, Ministers have been clear that the UK's approach to this particular issue will be informed by the outcomes of the Integrated Review. Working from first principles in this way is the right approach in my view, thus, it is best to wait until the Review has concluded before the UK commits itself to a detailed course of action on this issue.
Finally, I wholeheartedly agree with the recommendation that the UK should aim to lead global efforts to build resilient health systems. The Prime Minister has already set out a five-point plan to strengthen health systems against global health crises, and committed to putting girls' education and empowerment, including reproductive health, on the global agenda as part of our Presidency of the G7 this year.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Sally-Ann Hart MP