Health and nutrition are fundamental for a productive and fulfilling life. And without a healthy population, countries can’t make the most of people’s skills and energies.
The international community has set itself ambitious targets to ensure healthy lives for everyone, regardless of where they live, aiming for ‘Universal Health Coverage’ (UHC) by 2030.
Significant progress in the fight against poverty and disease has been achieved, such as increasing the overall coverage of essential vaccines, and tackling diseases of poverty like tuberculosis and malaria. However, struggling health systems, insufficient progress on malnutrition, and high disease burdens remain serious challenges, and half the world’s population don’t have access to the health services they need, especially those in the most marginalised and remote communities. And this year, much progress has been set back by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UK has long been a leader on global health, for example, as a leading donor to organisations such as Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and is at the forefront of global efforts to overcome malnutrition around the world, as well as putting signifcant resources into the global COVID response.
However, UK aid priorities are changing to focus more on the national interest, security and economic development, creating a real risk that the amount that goes to fund vital health and human development programmes will be reduced. It is essential that the UK’s new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) continues to spend a sufficient proportion of its resources on global health and nutrition.
In making its spending plans, the FCDO must allocate sufficient funds to the health and nutrition programmes supported by UK aid, to continue its vital support for achieving Universal Health Coverage around the world, and to geniunely strengthen health systems whose limitations have been demonstrated by the pandemic.