Saving lives and making a change by Luton South MP Gavin Shuker

Gavin Shuker MP
Gavin Shuker MP

Turn on the television, and you’ll see in 60 second ad-breaks, the familiar format - a starving child and an ask for £3 a month. It’s easy to assume that no progress on international development has been made. Perhaps that’s why British people think we spend nearly 20% of our national wealth each year on overseas aid to developing nations, when the reality is far smaller - just 0.7%.

What does that get us? In 2000, the world came together to agree a deal to tackle poverty in the developing world - the ‘Millennium Development Goals’. Before that there was no coordinated framework, and it showed. Inequality and poverty both rose.

Since the goals were put in place, we’ve halved the number of people living in absolute poverty around the world.

Today 9-out-of-10 of people in the world have enough food to eat and lead healthy lives - and that trend is upwards. 54 million more children started going to school in the poorest region of Africa between 1999 and 2011. And people are getting healthier. Since 2001, the rate of new HIV infections has decreased by more than 50% in 25 countries around the world.

These policies have led to the number of women dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth halving between 1990 and 2010. Since 2000, 6 million child deaths were averted through immunisations.

And we all did this. We did it without picking up the phone, or pledging. We did it through our government, making a small contribution, and a big difference.

I am responsible for leading in the Labour party the process of negotiations for the successor deal to the Millennium Development Goals. Next year we may find ourselves in government, landing that deal. And I’m determined to make sure that we are proud of our successes in saving lives and making change.