London, 30 April: With the UK general election less than a week away, each of the main political parties is promising to treat malaria elimination as a top priority as part of their pledge to continue spending on international development. How do the three main parties’ promises compare?
The Labour Party is using the UN Millennium Development Goals as its framework for international development spending, which is more or less in line with the government’s current position. There are no major policy departures, with the manifesto mirroring the Liberal Democrat pledge, but with added financial detail. According to the Labour Manifesto:
“We will spend £8.5 billion over eight years to help more children go to school; maintain our pledge to spend £6 billion on health between 2008 and 2015 and £1 billion through the Global Fund to support the fight against HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.”
And, unlike the Liberal Democrats more top line pledge, Labour has said it will deliver at least 30 million additional anti-malarial bed nets over the next three years.
The Conservative Party has made the most specific pledge on malaria of the three. Party leader, David Cameron, has been explicit on malaria spending and has made the astonishing promise to commit half the UK Department for International Development current annual budget on tackling malaria. The manifesto states:
“We'll move towards results-based aid, where money is handed to governments only when development results have been achieved. We'll focus our aid on the countries where it will make the biggest difference and spend £500 million a year to save lives by tackling malaria.”
The Liberal Democrats have mentioned malaria in the context of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis as three major diseases they will prioritise. In their manifesto, they say that they will:
“Prioritise health and education programmes which aim to promote gender equality, reduce maternal and infant mortality, and restrict the spread of major diseases like HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. We will focus effort on supplying basic needs like clean water. Support a global fund for social protection to help developing countries build viable welfare systems.”
Whilst it can be considered encouraging that all three parties are making specific mention of malaria in their election pledges, it is impossible to know before 6th May whether these are firm commitments to tackling malaria on the part of a prospective government, or just sound bytes intended to boost the parties’ popularity with voters ahead of polling day. In the event of a hung parliament, of course, all bets are off.
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