Director-General

Closing ceremony international drug purchase facility

Geneva, Switzerland
21 April 2006

Mr President, Ambassador Da Rocha Paranhos
Honourable Minister Douste-Blazy,
Your Excellencies,
Colleagues and friends,

Good morning.

In this room are many very familiar faces: Ambassador Sigrun Mogedal, Ambassador Michel Kazatchkine, Ambassador Jean-Marie Ripert. I see my old friend Richard Feachem from the Global Fund, and other friends from UNICEF and World Bank, I see representatives of countries, NGOs, foundations, the pharmaceutical industry and the private sector. This is a powerful combination.

I especially want to thank Brazil, Chile, France and Norway for their leadership in developing innovative financing proposals to benefit developing countries. Let me assure you: WHO is fully committed to supporting this important initiative.

I have had the honour to discuss these ideas over the past year with President Chirac and Minister Douste-Blazy. When this concept started, it was truly innovative. I admire the commitment of the leaders who have made this idea into a reality.

I have taken part in meetings on innovative financing since late 2004. Concrete health outcomes are already emerging from this process.

This proposed facility is an important step forward in securing predictable and sustainable supplies of drugs and diagnostics. These are critical elements in scaling up HIV, tuberculosis and malaria programmes. The drugs people use must be safe, affordable and available. Medicines are not everything, but without them, little can be done.

The availability and affordability of safe drugs has long separated developing and developed countries. The creative application of the proceeds of this innovative financing to equalize access is a way to bridge this divide. I applaud the developing countries which plan to introduce such a tax and the unity of purpose this represents.

Next steps: Over the next few months we stand ready as required to make your proposal a reality. WHO has solid experience to bring to this initiative, for example, through the global drug facility for TB. A pilot mechanism launched quickly will demonstrate the value of this new initiative and pave the way for its rapid deployment.

The next steps need to happen quickly and to show results. As was emphasized by Minister Douste-Blazy, no new mechanism should duplicate existing structures and mechanisms. The arrangements must ensure complementarity, light governance, and minimal operational costs and arrangements.

Next week I will address the Health Ministers of the G8 in Moscow. I will speak there on our plans in the field of infectious disease. The fruits of our discussions here, and the anticipated results will make an important contribution to G8 commitments in the field of HIV, TB and malaria. I will also be raising this issue at the World Health Assembly in May, and the G8 Summit in July.

In closing, let me thank you for opening a new chapter in creative resourcing for health.

WHO stands ready to put your wishes into action immediately.

Thank you

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