Following a meeting with philanthropist Bill Gates today, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg confirmed that he will be representing the UK at the Millennium Development Goals Summit at the United Nations in September.
Mr Clegg said:
“Bill and Melinda Gates have proved an inspirational and unstoppable force in the fight against global disease and destitution. Today is the beginning of a close and productive relationship between their Foundation and our government. I am looking forward to working closely with Bill in the run up to this crucial summit. We agree that this would be the worst possible moment for the international community to retreat from our promise to help developing nations. The global economy has undergone a major trauma and the world’s poorest are being hit extremely hard.
“The New York talks are a huge opportunity to get the Millennium Development Goals back on track. With the 2015 deadline now around the corner, the time for warm words is over. National leaders have a duty to put in place a concrete plan to bring down the high death tolls of mothers, children and babies that are a blight on developing nations.
“The Coalition Government and Gates Foundation are committed to working together to eradicate polio, which is 99% eradicated but on which we need a big push to eradicate the final 1%. I can today confirm that the UK will provide the next phase of its support, vaccinating 15-20m children under 5 this year”.
Mr Gates said:
“It was a pleasure to meet with Nick Clegg today. I appreciate the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the new government’s strategy on international development assistance, especially as the world prepares for the MDG Review Summit at the UN General Assembly in September. I welcome the UK’s leadership on international development and its commitment to maintaining the nation’s promise to spend 0.7% of its Gross National Income on official development assistance, despite significant challenges to the British economy. I urge other donor nations, particularly those in the G8, to follow its lead.
“In the face of such challenging economic times, we must be even smarter about how resources are used and maintain our commitments to the world’s poor. I commend the Deputy Prime Minister and the new government’s determination to ensure that the resources of the Department for International Development are spent on programmes that focus on solutions and deliver positive results, like their work on the global elimination of polio.
“The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, of which the UK and the Gates Foundation are the largest funders, is a good example of smart investing and effective partnerships. The GAVI Alliance funds vaccine programmes in 72 countries - providing one of the most cost effective innovations in global health. Because of GAVI and other international organisations dedicated to improving the lives of children, we’ve seen a reduction in worldwide mortality in children under the age of five from 11.9 million deaths in 1990 to 7.7 million deaths in 2010. I look forward to working with the UK on these and the many other challenges facing us as we work to help give all people the opportunity to live healthy and productive lives.”