Douglas Alexander: Ignore the fashionable criticism. Your Government's aid is effective

Share
Related Topics

Every year British taxpayers are helping save the lives of millions of people in the developing world. They are doing so because their money is being carefully and rigorously targeted at improving health care in some of the most disadvantaged nations in the world. As a result of the efforts of donor governments, international institutions such as the World Bank and NGOs real progress is being made. Polio, once the scourge of the poor worldwide, is on the verge of eradication, more than 4.5 million people are being treated for TB and a further three million now have access to life-saving drugs.

The UK alone will by next year have handed out 20 million bednets to combat malaria - which we estimate will prevent 110,000 child deaths. None of this has happened by accident. This Labour Government has trebled aid since 1997 after the Conservative Government halved it.

To claim, as Philip Stevens did in this column yesterday, that millions of pounds are somehow being flung at wasteful and corrupt governments is plain wrong. The UK does indeed channel cash through governments into health care. We measure effectiveness by results and we are confident that we are getting bang for our buck.

It is simply not credible to bypass governments if the Millennium Development Goals are to be met. The only way to cut dependence on aid – an aim we all share – is to allow the governments of developing countries to build up their own health services.

To do otherwise would be like pouring water into a desert. The money would swiftly be soaked up in projects which would have no lasting benefits. By channelling the money through governments we allow them to develop their capacity to provide sustainable health care based on their own priorities. We are not, however, blinded by dogma and in states where there is no stable government we do find different ways of helping the sick.

It is regrettably fashionable to decry the extraordinary strides in tackling poverty over the past 20 years. The unpalatable truth is that aid is an easy target because poor people whose lives it has transformed cannot answer back.

The author is Secretary of State for International Development. A fuller version of this article can be read at Eagle Eye: www.independent.co.uk/eagleeye

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£22000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Thame i...

Graduate Project Manager

£25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

PPA Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Teaching Assistant Cornwall

£45 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Plymouth: TEACHING ASSISTANTS REQUIRED F...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: out of time, polling and immigration and old words

John Rentoul
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past