Launch of the World Health Report 2004

Geneva, Switzerland
11 May 2004

Ladies and gentlemen,

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

Just 24 hours ago, Paul Martin, the Prime Minister of Canada, announced a grant of 100 million Canadian dollars to support our work to reach "3 by 5". This wonderful news brings hope to millions. Yet again, the Canadian Government has demonstrated leadership, vision and commitment in the most practical way.

Together with UNAIDS, the Global Fund and our national and international partners, we are in a position to save the lives of millions of people from HIV and AIDS.

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, and eventually stopped. 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. So I am happy to be launching the report jointly with UNAIDS and the Global Fund. 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.

Up to now, many communities 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 and in the health services.

What all of us want to see our efforts contributing to is renewed and strengthened health systems. 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.

The launch of this Report coincides with an important meeting of the "3 by 5 Partners" taking place today and tomorrow. During the World Health Assembly next week there will be a Round Table on HIV/AIDS. In July there is the International AIDS Conference in Bangkok. This Report, and these different meetings, are evidence of gathering momentum. Meetings and reports alone do not save lives. But by sharing knowledge, facilitating cooperation and building momentum, they make a vital contribution to the work of saving lives and restoring communities.

This Report is an important milestone in the global effort to bring ARV treatment to the millions who need it. I warmly encourage you to read it.

Thank you.