Meeting of health officials - World Health Report 2004

Bucharest, Romania
24 June 2004

Ladies and gentlemen,

The world now has an unprecedented opportunity to reverse the course of AIDS and change history. More money and more political will are being devoted to the fight against AIDS than ever before.

We have called this year's World Health Report Changing history because it is about how the worst epidemic of the last few centuries can be contained. It provides a detailed overview of the current global HIV/AIDS emergency, and shows how prevention, treatment and long-term support can bring it under control.

Above all, strong partnerships are bringing the elements together in effective action on an unprecedented scale. When we launched this report last month we did so jointly with UNAIDS and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. They are two of our key partners in taking up the challenges set out in this book.

  • UNAIDS is providing leadership in uniting the efforts of the many different groups involved, especially through its "three ones" - one action framework, one national authority and one monitoring system at country level.
  • The Global Fund is ensuring that the financing is secured, made available where it is most needed and used effectively.
  • WHO is focusing on increasing access to treatment, care and prevention services, with the "3 by 5" initiative providing the first major milestone.

Your current work in Romania on HIV/AIDS and TB control with Global Fund support is another excellent example of the kind of partnerships now needed. It can make a decisive difference in the current struggle to prevent AIDS and TB from causing more widespread devastation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Up to now, many communities, particularly in Africa, have been trapped in a vicious circle, in which disease and poverty accelerate each other. We are now in a position, through the delivery of AIDS prevention and treatment services, to set in motion the opposite process. In this virtuous circle, restored health gives communities the strength to avoid and prevent infection, and this leads to further improvement in health.

A long-term objective that all of these efforts can contribute to is renewed and strengthened health services. These will:

  • provide prevention and treatment services that reinforce each other;
  • be staffed by health workers competent in a wide range of disease control activities;
  • and make full use of the talents and resources of the community.

At the World Health Assembly last month, I was encouraged to see the strong support HIV/AIDS control is receiving from our Member States. In the context of our campaign to get three million people onto antiretroviral treatment by the end of 2005, I was able to announce two very welcome developments: strong financial backing, and accelerated approval procedures for fixed-dose drug combinations. Next month we will be reporting on progress towards our targets at the International AIDS Conference in Bangkok.

These events and developments, together with your own ongoing achievements here in Romania, are evidence of gathering momentum. There is still a very long way to go towards stopping the epidemic, but there are at last convincing signs that we are moving in that direction.

This Report documents the global effort to bring ARV treatment to the millions who need it. I warmly encourage you to read it.

Thank you.