DFID Pledges Ongoing Support for Malaria30 June 2010
London, 30 June: Last night, MPs, experts and interested parties from the malaria community worldwide, gathered at Parliament for the first meeting of All Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (APPMG) under the new coalition government.
The group had a full agenda and the first order of business was to honour the outgoing chair. Tributes were paid to the new Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Development, Stephen O’ Brien MP, who has resigned his duties as chair of the APPMG since taking on his senior ministerial role at the Department for International Development (DFID).
He is replaced by new MP, Jeremy Lefroy (Conservative), who has a long history of engagement with malaria during several years living in Tanzania, not least for having suffered from the disease four times himself. His credentials for the role include founding and running Equity for Africa, a charitable trust which seeks to alleviate poverty in a self-sustaining way by creating jobs through investing in small and medium-sized enterprises in Africa.
Once the AGM business was concluded, the floor was given over to the guest speakers: Stephen O’Brien, in his capacity as a new DFID minister, Dr Robert Newman, Director of WHO’s Global Malaria Program, and Dr Joy Phumphai, advisor to the African Leaders Malaria Alliance.
All three speakers focused the importance of keeping malaria spending high on the international agenda if the impressive gains made so far were to be maintained and built upon and as a crucial element in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Minister O’ Brien re-affirmed DFIDs commitment to malaria elimination as an international development goal for the coalition government. Development assistance has always been a non-partisan issue, he said, and the ringfencing of DFID’s budget was evidence that despite the global recession, the UK had an enduring commitment to decrease the level of sickness and death from malaria.
“Malaria interventions will also accelerate progress on the MDGs”, he confirmed, “and malaria eradication may be aspirational, but it is also possible.”
Minister O’ Brien also echoed the UK position stated at the G8/G20 summits in Canada last weekend, noting that given the pass the development budget has been granted, DFID has a “double duty of care” to show value for money as well as to demonstrate measurable gains against the disease.
Malaria Consortium continues to engage with and support the work of the APPMG and looks forward to working with the Group going forward under Jeremy Lefroy’s leadership.