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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 September 2007, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
PM's bid for global health care
Orphans in Mozambique
Mr Brown says everyone should benefit from the best healthcare
Gordon Brown is spearheading a campaign to build national health systems in some of the world's poorest countries that will help save millions of lives.

The UK prime minister is forming a new partnership with other developed countries to make sure international aid is spent effectively.

Ministers from Burundi, Nepal, Zambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique and Cambodia will take part in the launch.

The PM and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed the scheme last month.

It is hoped the International Health Partnership will help poor countries meet three key Millennium Development Goals, fighting illnesses like HIV/AIDS and cutting childhood and maternal mortality rates.

'No greater cause'

These goals, agreed by the UN in 2000, aim to significantly reduce poverty and disease, and to improve sanitation in developing countries - but many poor countries will fall short of achieving them by the agreed date of 2015.

The partnership will be formally launched in Downing Street on Wednesday.

We have the knowledge and the power to save millions of lives through our efforts
Gordon Brown

Mr Brown said: "There is no greater cause than that every man, woman and child in the world should be able to benefit from the best medicine and healthcare.

"And our vision today is that we can triumph over ancient scourges and for the first time in history, conquer polio, TB, measles, and then with further advances and initiatives, go on to address pneumoccal pneumonia, malaria and eventually, HIV/AIDS.

"Today we come together - donor governments, health agencies and developing countries - with the certainty that we have the knowledge and the power to save millions of lives through our efforts."

International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander said while global aid for health has doubled since 2000 and much has been achieved to fight disease and save lives, it is only part of the solution.

'Major breakthrough'

"The donor community needs to work together better and smarter in order to deliver for the very countries we're trying to help, whilst supporting poor countries' own priorities," he said.

"This is not about launching a health initiative, but is about building health services."

The programme is backed by Norway, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and international organisations including: the World Bank, the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, the European Commission and the African Development Bank.

But they have so far not been joined by the US, which has launched its own fund to fight Aids in Africa.

The measures have been welcomed by Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children, who said: "Bringing together rich and poor governments and organisations like the World Health Organisation and the Global Fund behind this initiative is a major breakthrough."

But Romilly Greenhill, policy officer for ActionAid, warned: "Effective co-ordination at country level demands complete international and national buy-in and also money, and that is still a long way from being realised."

'Urgent action'

Mr Brown has already pledged to lobby world leaders to live up to promises made in 2000 to tackle a range of development issues, including gender equality, education and poverty.

In a speech at the UN in July, he said the millennium development goals were "a million miles" from being met.

Mr Brown held talks with Mrs Merkel in London last month to thrash out the details of the health partnership. Both promised "urgent action" to tackle disease in the world's poorest countries.

Mr Brown, while chancellor, had pushed hard for a global financing facility to help poor countries fund the purchase of medicines and to encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop more drugs appropriate for developing countries.

But without adequate health delivery systems, such drug programmes would be ineffective.

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