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After aid: the NHS can also learn from India and China

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 30 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f601
  1. Mala Rao, professor of international health, Institute for Health and Human Development, University of East London, Stratford Campus, Water Lane, London E15 4LZ
  1. m.rao{at}

A recent debate in the BMJ asked whether rich countries should stop sending development aid to India.1 It was published soon after the announcement that all financial aid from the United Kingdom to India will end in 2015.2 This debate is set against a backdrop of a changing world order, from which there will be no turning back. Relationships between the UK and India and the UK and China have matured into partnerships of equals, creating new opportunities for mutual learning and benefit. What may have shaped these changing relationships, and what gains can the three countries anticipate?

The Indian government acknowledges that its own development budget has grown considerably, but it would still value technical support to build the skills and capacity that are essential for social and economic transformation. The outcome of this is that after 2015 the partnership with the UK will focus on programmes where skills and expertise are shared across governments on priorities such as growth, trade, investment, education, skills, and health.2

Learning from China

China’s transformed economic and political status led to the UK closing its bilateral aid programme in 2011.3 Instead, the UK Department for International Development launched the UK-China Global Development Partnership Programme (GDPP) to foster collaboration in areas including the reduction of poverty and achievement of the millennium development goals globally. The programme will build on lessons from China’s unparalleled success in decreasing infant, child, and maternal mortality rates and from China’s recent reforms of its health sector. So the nature of “aid” from the UK to India and China is rapidly evolving into one of technical partnerships, with leaders in disciplines such as science and policy working together, and is intended to benefit …

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