§ 86. Mr. Butler
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commowealth Affairs what requests for assistance he has received for programmes to combat AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
§ The Minister for Overseas Development (Mr. Chris Patten)
The World Health Organisation is moblising the external assistance needed for AIDS control programmes in developing countries. Subject to parliamentary approval, we shall contribute £4.5 million to support its work this year. In addition, we have taken part in donor meetings, arranged by the World Health Organisation, in four African countries and have pledged a total of £4.6 million over five years towards their national AIDS programmes.
§ Mr. Butler
My hon. Friend may be aware that the South African Government have sent about 1,000 migrant workers back to Malawi because they are AIDS positive. Has he received any request for help from Malawi?
§ Mr. Patten
I have had no official report on the matter that my hon. Friend has mentioned; nor, as far as I know, has the World Health Organisation. We have received no requests for assistance from the Malawi Government.
§ Mr. Boateng
The Minister will be aware that quite considerable success has been achieved by various public health information campaigns on the issue of AIDS in the sub-Saharan region. The spread of the virus is made infinitely worse by the collapse of the, economic infrastructures of many of the most severely affected countries. Does he recognise that, as part of the campaign against AIDS, the time has come to re-evaluate our policy on sub-Saharan debt and to take new initiatives to create in such regions an economic climate that is more likely to enable and enhance, rather than hinder, the combating of AIDS?
§ Mr. Patten
I take it that, like, for example, the Commonwealth Finance Ministers last year, the hon. 548 Gentleman is endorsing the Chancellor of the Exchequer's debt initiative. Again, last week, the Chancellor made a speech at the spring meetings of the international financial institutions in Washington. We hope that decisions can be taken by the autumn meetings. It is time that we acted, and acted decisively, on African debt.