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Keeping promises to the world's poorest

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They aren’t magic, but vaccines are a wise choice when itcomes to well spent international aid.

In light of the UK’s current economic climate, there will becriticism of the Government’s pledge this morning to give an additional £814m aboveit’s existing commitment of £680m in aid between 2011 and 2015 to developingcountries for the funding of vaccinations against preventable diseases likediarrhoea and pneumonia. But the NHS, libraries, tuition fees and my more thanscepticism regarding most of the decisions being made by the current UK Government aside, this one is a massively good call. David Cameron has made at least one wisedecision, with which I surprise myself in wholehearted agreement!

Why should we help other countries when petrol prices arerising, graduates can’t get jobs and current public sector cuts are steep?Doesn’t charity begin at home? Emphasising the need to make decisions whichensure money spent on foreign aid is spent effectively and where it is mostneeded, the prime minister talked of a “moral case" for keeping promises madeto the developing world, regardless of the economic circumstances in Britain. Heis right that the UK should not walk away from international aid for anyreason.

Despite the deficit, Britain is a rich country and has more to givethan even today’s seemingly large pledges reflect. Diarrhoea and pneumonia inthis country are largely no threat to lives, but are some of the simplest andwidest spread killers in the developing world. It is right to make and keeppromises which use the wealth of our country for preventing disease and savingthe lives of others. It’s great to see that international aid is still apriority to the Prime Minister in terms of giving, and encouraging the privatesector to do the same.

The money may be a drop in the ocean, and questionsremain regarding the practicalities of delivering the aid, the cost ofpharmaceuticals and the efficiency of spending. However I see the Prime Minister’ssupport of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation as a greatlyencouraging and positive move, placing this vital issue as a central news story.

To any healthcare student recognising thecentral importance of making vaccines available to prevent preventable diseasesin populations which desperately need them, and to any Christian living inlight of the gracious gospel message of Jesus Christ, seeking justice andgiving to the poor should resonate as a practical and logical priority. More please! 

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