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New global health initiative revealed

The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel reveal details of a new global initiative to improve healthcare for the world's poorest countries

The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have revealed details of a new global initiative which will improve healthcare for the world's poorest countries.

The announcement came at the beginning of a scheduled meeting between Merkel and Brown at Downing Street. Both have emphasised that immediate action was needed to fight HIV/AIDS and reduce mother and child mortality rates in developing countries.

The action plan is part of the UN Millennium Development Goals established by the international community in 2000, which aim to reduce world poverty by 2015.

An international health partnership to ensure that overseas aid is more efficiently targeted at the main health needs of poorer countries will be launched on 5 September 2007, according to a joint press statement from Merkel and Brown.

Germany, Britain, Canada and Norway, as well as the World Bank and the World Health Organisation (WHO) will work together to improve access to health services and improve their effectiveness.

Brown and Merkel explained that even though overseas aid had increased in recent years, funding had targeted specific areas only and not built strong, sustainable healthcare systems necessary for combating disease. They added that international assistance was "over-complex" and "fragmentedî, while a lack of health workers, clinics, supplies of essential medicines and financing were blocking attempts to improve the situation.

International health agencies and other bodies will work with country-owned plans linking donor support to national plans and co-ordinate efforts on the ground.

Brown and Merkel's promise follows a promise by the Group of Eight industrialised nations in June 2007 to provide USD 60bn to fight HIV/AIDS and malaria in Africa, while further boosting development aid.

2nd September 2008

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