International Federation of Red Cross Governing Board Meeting
Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting me here this afternoon.
I will start with one of the biggest emergencies facing the world today - the lack of access to AIDS treatment for people in developing countries.
Antiretroviral therapy works - it gives people who would otherwise die many years of good, healthy life. New research published last week once again demonstrated this fact. The research was done in the rich world, but all the experience we have from health clinics and treatment programmes in poor countries shows that AIDS treatment works just as well there.
Six million people who urgently need antiretroviral therapy in poor countries will die unnecessarily - unless we can deliver the treatment that they need.
At WHO we have pledged to refocus our work on AIDS to meet a challenge: providing three million people with antiretroviral therapy by the end of 2005, the so-called 3 by 5 target. To reach this target requires a major rethink of the work we do - and most importantly of the way we do it.
This is something we are already doing at WHO, but it is not something we can do alone. We will only reach the 3 by 5 target if we all work together - governments, international organizations and civil society. I am here today to ask for your support - as a federation, and as representatives of national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
WHO and Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have a long history of working closely together. Together, we have supported people in central Africa to protect themselves from Ebola. We have trained thousands of vaccinators to deliver life-saving injections during yellow fever outbreaks. We have provided vital medicines and treatment to people at risk of meningitis in Africa every year.
Together, we have saved countless lives. With your support, we can save many more and reach the ambitious goal of treating some of the millions of people suffering from AIDS.
Let me tell you some of the ways in which WHO is retooling to deliver on the 3 by 5 target.
We have formed emergency response teams. They will be working in the next days and weeks - in Africa Asia and Eastern Europe. The teams are working with governments and other partners to identify and remove obstacles to increase the availability of antiretroviral treatment.
At the same time, in Geneva and in our Regional Offices we are working to simplify the treatment that is available and the tools that can be used to deliver it. We are building an AIDS Drugs and Diagnostics Facility through which countries will be able to purchase quality medicines at best prices. We are developing a system to deliver and certify training.
In short, we are rethinking the way we work. We know that we cannot reach our target through business as usual. And we know that we cannot reach our target alone.
My hope is that we can work together, we can reach this target, and we can offer many years of productive, healthy life to people who will otherwise die very soon.
Looking through the list of activities that we have undertaken together in regions and in countries shows the extent of our day to day work to deliver health care. On polio, on measles, on maternal and childhood illness, on malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, we are having a real impact on the lives of people around the world. We achieve much because we work together - our partnerships deliver more than the sum of our parts. Let us continue our important collaboration and let us always remember that we will be judged not on our fine words but on our clear and effective actions in the field.