The UK’s International Development Minister Andrew Mitchell and Health Minister Will Quince announced investments in “ground-breaking research and development” at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) 78th session in September 2023. The government describes these investments as an effort to “tackle the world’s most pressing health challenges”. UK scientific expertise is to be “harnessed to boost health security around the world”.  

Research and development  

The investment includes up to £103.5 million to develop affordable vaccines through the UK Vaccine Network, which unites industry, academia, and funding bodies in an advisory capacity for the Department of Health and Social Care. The funding will cover other health products and treatments that will “halt the spread of infectious diseases” and support programmes to protect sexual and reproductive health. 

The UK will also contribute to research and development into “cutting-edge technology” that enables quick responses to disease outbreaks and improves the health of vulnerable populations in low- and middle-income countries. £295 million will go towards the development of new methods of drug administration to ensure that life-saving care reaches remote areas.  

“This new package of R&D will bolster the world’s ability to respond swiftly and effectively to disease outbreaks.”  

Included are a previously announced pledge from the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office to CEPI and £5 million of additional funding for the TB Alliance. An additional £95 million will go to the Tackling Deadly Diseases in Africa Programme II; this partners with Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo, WHO, and Africa CDC to “detect and tackle future epidemics, drug resistant infections, and climate change.  

Back on track for SDGs 

Andrew Mitchell commented that the UK is “committed to reinvigorating progress” towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

“The UK’s significant support for global health announced at the UN General Assembly this week will be truly transformational in creating more resilient and inclusive health systems worldwide.” 

Will Quince agreed that the investment is “vital for saving lives – both at home and abroad”.  

“This UK Vaccine Network investment will help deliver effective and accessible vaccines for populations threatened by infectious diseases and cements the UK’s status as a leader in global health research.”  

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