Shipping containers transformed into health centre saves lives
Last year, Concern built a new life-saving health clinic using old shipping containers in just three months in one of the hottest and poorest parts of the world; Chad.
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Dominic Raab, the UK foreign secretary, announced last July that there would be a cut to the UK’s aid commitment because the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the UK economy means that gross national income (GNI) would be reduced. News then came in November that the overseas aid budget would be cut to 0.5%, from 0.7%, of gross national income (GNI) in 2021. To be clear – this is a cut on top of a cut. We have now been informed that the health project in Bangladesh which we implemented with partners and the Bangladeshi government, has been terminated.
Our project was bringing essential healthcare to people living in remote, poor and disadvantaged areas of Bangladesh. The project started in 2019 and was due to run until the end of 2022. Just three months ago the project was given an A performance rating by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) meaning that it fully met all of their expectations. While we knew all projects could be at risk under these sweeping cuts, we did not expect funding for this project to be totally withdrawn. It was not a 20, 30 or 50% cut. It was a 100% cut with immediate effect.
This is a huge blow to our team and the local organisations who we are working with on the project but most importantly it is devastating for the people who were due to receive support. The project would have reached over 2.6 million people, including 140,000 people living with a disability.
Activities that will no longer happen include:
Currently, there is an outbreak of a diarrhoeal disease in one of the areas where we work. This project would have been in a position to respond but now we are unable to. Diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old so it is likely that this decision to cut funding will result in preventable deaths.
Over the last year the project had pivoted to support the Covid-19 response in the country – so ripping away funding at this time is disastrous. Below are just some of the ways the project was working to tackle the pandemic.
The project was a part of Government of Bangladesh’s National Health Strategy, and the government is unlikely to be in a position to quickly fill the gap created by the sudden withdrawal of this work. This could cause a major setback to the Covid-19 emergency response.
We understand the economic pressures that the UK government is under as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic but the decision to reduce the aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5% will not significantly contribute to meeting the fiscal deficit. However, these cuts will have serious consequences on the lives of the people that UK Aid had committed to improving.
We partner with a range of organisations that share our passion and the results have been fantastic.