2005-04-05-UK global HIV strategy criticised

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2005-04-05-UK global HIV strategy criticised

 

UK government funds to help fight the world HIV/Aids epidemic are often not reaching the neediest people, MPs say.

The cross-party MPs said the Department for International Development's (DfID) approach lacked clarity.

Money given to global bodies was often not even being spent on HIV/Aids, the Public Accounts Select Committee said.

The government said the "useful" report would be taken into account. The Tories and Lib Dems said more work was needed, but aid agencies praised DfID's record.

The attack by the committee comes despite the UK being the second biggest donor on HIV/Aids.

The Department for International Development spent £270m in 2002-3 on HIV/Aids and over the next three years has promised to increase spending to £1.5bn.

Budget

Nearly half of DfID's aid budget goes on multilateral bodies, such as the European Commission, but just 4% of the £1.4bn pot is then spent on HIV/Aids.

The MPs said the government was not using its influence to ensure the money was spent on the right priorities.

DfID was also attacked for its strategy of handing money straight to foreign governments.

The report said some countries with relatively low HIV rates were receiving more than others with higher rates.

Money was also not getting through to the most vulnerable groups, such as women and children, and there was a lack of focus on social and economic impacts - over the last five years just 1% of funding has focused on this area.

Prices of antiretroviral drugs had also not fallen uniformly across the world and MPs said the department had to do more to ensure equal access.

Committee chairman Edward Leigh said the department had been slow to react to problems thrown up by the HIV/Aids epidemic.

Balance

"The department needs to develop clear criteria to strike the balance between developmental and humanitarian considerations in allocating funding, and between funding other organisations to provide support and responding itself," he said.

But Dr Badara Samb, of the World Health Organization, praised the work of DfID.

"DfID recognises that HIV requires a global response and partnership working and they have played a part."

A spokesman for ActionAid added: "ActionAid believes that generally DfID have a good record in HIV/AIDS, being braver than many other governments.

"DfID has funded work with many populations who are usually discriminated against.

"Unlike the US, the UK has never imposed inappropriate conditions on its money."

But he said more money could be directed to treatment programmes.

A DfID spokeswoman said: "We welcome the report which contains many useful recommendations and we will make a full response in the next few weeks."

Shadow secretary for international development Alan Duncan said: "The government must do all it can to ensure that the multilateral institutions it supports take urgent action to tackle the HIV/Aids crisis."

Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat international development spokesman, said the committee's findings raised "profound" concerns.

"The report is a wake-up call for the government - far more must be done to deliver satisfactory results."

 


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