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Tuesday, 28 November, 2000, 13:05 GMT
World health targets 'on track'
Child being immunised for polio
Supporting immunisation is a key feature of the strategy
Targets for a huge cut in the death rate of mothers and children in the developing world are "challenging but achievable," according to International Development Secretary, Clare Short.

Launching a paper outlining Britain's strategy for addressing health problems in the world's poorest countries, Ms Short said by working together, the international community could achieve key goals within the next 15 years.

These include reducing infant and child mortality by two thirds by 2015 and cutting maternal mortality by three quarters in the same period.

Clare Short
Clare Short: "Targets need to be grounded in reality"
The strategy paper also looks at steps for cutting HIV infection rates among 15-24 year olds, reducing deaths from malaria and TB, and for improving access to reproductive health care.

Ms Short said: "The targets are challenging, some particularly so.

"But if, by working together, we can increase the effectiveness of the international community, our assessment is that these targets are achievable for developing countries as a group by the target date."

But she warned that these countries needed "political will" in order to improve healthcare for their populations.

Cash for condoms

The UK has donated 325m in the past year to improving health in developing nations.

The latest payment of 25m went towards supplying male and female condoms to help stop the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Tuesday's strategy paper says better health improves the economic security and development of individuals and countries as a whole.

The document outlines how the Department for International Development (DFID) intends to raise the global profile of health problems - especially maternal mortality - and increase its work in environmental health which, it says, is a key factor of child survival.

Investing in strong healthcare systems, increasing access to reproductive health services and supporting prevention of communicable diseases are also given priority in the strategy.

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