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MSF: Comment ahead of vote on UK aid spending cuts

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Sunday, June 6, 2021 — Commenting ahead of a potential vote tomorrow (Monday) in the UK’s House of Commons which aims at overturning the Government’s cuts to the aid budget, Vickie Hawkins, Executive Director of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) UK said:

These cuts will devastate health services for some of the world’s most vulnerable people. In many cases, there is simply no one able to step in and plug the gap that they will leave.

To take just one example, the UK Government has gutted funding for the prevention and treatment of many ‘neglected tropical diseases.’ These are diseases such as visceral leishmaniasis (VL) which can be fatal, and were already chronically underfunded. VL control programmes in East Africa support over 10,000 patients each year and have been fully dependent on UK funding for diagnostics, drugs and other support. They will collapse entirely following this withdrawal of funds. And this is just one example among many.

The issue is not only the scale of the cuts, but also the deeply irresponsible way in which they have been carried out – overnight and without warning to those who depended on this funding. The Government has effectively pulled the rug out from under nurses and doctors providing care to some of the world’s most neglected communities.

While MSF does not take UK Government funding, we know we will see the devastating impact of these cuts on the people we assist, unless they are reversed without delay.

We would urge the Government to think again on this issue. If they refuse to do so, we hope that MPs will vote on Monday to make a clear statement to the UK Government that it is not acceptable to step away from lifesaving programmes and research.

But even if that vote is successful, the short-term damage will still get worse with every passing day. We also need to see an urgent plan of action to address the terrible damage that the Government’s short-sighted decision is already wreaking.