Lords debates ‘millennium goal’ on maternal health

13 January 2011

Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, made his maiden speech in the House of Lords on Wednesday 12 January, in a debate on maternal health in the context of the millennium development goals

Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint expressed his keenness, as Minister of State for Trade and Investment, to contribute to the debate because of his ‘passionate’ belief that ‘there is a vital connecting thread between trade and investment and the millennium development goals.’ The millennium goals were intrinsically linked, he said. Goal three on progress on gender equality was connected to goal five on improved maternal health and to goal four on reduced child mortality. The link with goal six on disease, was also clear: ‘HIV is the leading cause of death in women of reproductive age in sub-Saharan Africa and malaria alone is responsible for 20 per cent of child mortality there.’

Specific interventions could be powerfully effective, but without ‘real progress’ on goal eight none would ‘ever add up to sustainable, comprehensive well-being,’ Lord Green said. Goal eight appeared to be ‘ragbag of ideas bundled together’, however, it included the ‘all-important challenge to further develop "an open, rules-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system".’
Critical to ‘everything else that we do. It is certainly not sufficient but it is absolutely necessary.’

Although progress was mixed and there were many lessons to learn from the global financial and economic crisis, trade and investment was an area of policy focus for the UK critical ‘to the UK's own ability to deliver sustainable growth for its citizens’ and also ‘to the wider goal of a prosperous, open, growing world economy that is sustainable and inclusive,’ Lord Green said. ‘This aspiration is both our wider responsibility and in our wider interest.’

Lord Patel introduced the question for short debate on how the Government propose to meet Millennium Development Goal Five on improving maternal health and maternal morbidity. Baroness Verma responded on behalf of the Government.

Further information

The term ‘maiden speech’ refers to the first time a new Member gives a speech in the House of the Lords. A maiden speech usually takes place during a general debate and is uncontroversial.

Image: iStockphoto

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