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British health workers save lives in developing countries

International Development Secretary and Cardinal Turkson hear how British health workers play a crucial role in reducing maternal and child deaths in the world’s poorest countries.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell and President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Turkson, today heard how British health workers play a crucial role in reducing maternal and child deaths in the world’s poorest countries.

As part of the Pope’s first ever State visit to the UK, Cardinal Turkson and the Secretary of State met British doctors and nurses who will be travelling to Rwanda and Ethiopia to share their skills.

Health professionals from developing countries told the delegation about the challenges they face in delivering healthcare in their country. The practical skills they learn through the health links will help them save the lives of many more women and babies, a key pledge of the UK government ahead of the Millennium Development Summit in New York.

The Health Partnerships scheme, announced by Andrew Mitchell in June this year, will enable more British health professionals to share their skills with birth attendants, nurses and doctors in developing countries through teaching, training and practical assistance.

Up to 50 international partnerships will be established between the NHS and UK institutions - such as the Royal Colleges and the National Institute of Clinical Excellence - and developing countries’ health systems. The partnerships will provide direct support and expertise between medical institutions to raise professional standards.

The Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell said:

“It is unacceptable that every year over a third of a million women around the world die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

“I am delighted to be here with the Cardinal today to get the chance to see for ourselves how British nurses, midwives and medical teams are using their expertise to help save women’s lives in some of the world’s poorest countries.

“At the Millennium Development Goal Summit next week I will be doing all I can to make sure that the international community keeps its promises to the world’s poor, and that women and girls are at the very forefront of those efforts.”

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Published 17 September 2010