MPs demand explanation of govt HIV spending

MPs have demanded the government outline the finances behind its HIV spending programme, after voicing concerns about where the money is coming from.

A report, released a day ahead of World Aids day, welcomes the UK government’s £6 billion commitment to reinforcing the effectiveness of health systems in developing countries via its new strategy.

But MPs claim the Department for International Development (DfID) must match its rhetoric with the necessary details.

“We very much welcome the substantial funding DfID has allocated to support health services in developing countries,” said Malcolm Bruce, the chairman of the international development committee.

“But it is not yet clear to us whether this £6 billion is new money or simply a redirection of existing commitments. We have asked the department for a full breakdown of where this sum will come from and how it will be spent on the ground in developing countries.”

The government’s strategy for tackling HIV/Aids in the developing world lacks key targets and could jeopardise the Millennium Development Goals, the MPs said.

Under the Millennium Development Goals, the spread of Hiv/Aids is to be reversed by 2015 but currently 6,000 people die with the virus every day and a further 7,000 become infected.

In their reports MPs call on DfID to set out a clear strategy with targets and indicators to ensure their new approach succeeds.

Mr Bruce added that the government must do more to address challenges such as gender-based violence.

“We were shocked to learn that young girls in some countries in Africa are more likely to be raped than to learn how to read and write,” he said.

“Sexual violence is a major factor in the spread of HIV. We need to know what programmes DfID intends to support to tackle gender-based violence. There are examples of effective projects which the department has funded, but DfID has not yet made clear how it intends to replicate and build on this work.”