World Health Day lunch

World Health Day
7 April 2006

I extend my thanks to the Vice President of Zambia, the Prime Minister of Nambia, and the Minister of Health of Zambia,

Dear Colleagues,

First of all, let me thank you for joining us today.

This is, in a sense, a birthday party. The 7th of April is WHO's birthday.

This was the day, back in 1948, that our Constitution entered into effect.

Chapter one, article one was our objective "the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health".

I am very glad to have this opportunity to thank all of you here today. Our partnership with you is invaluable.

Today's theme is "working together for health". That simple phrase says it all. We are working together with you, for health, and for all the advantages to development brought by improved health.

Africa has the ability to tackle and overcome important health challenges. Today, polio is cornered in just a few areas on this continent. The effort to eradicate polio has been a struggle, but it has achieved some astonishing partnerships for health. And it is leaving a useful legacy of improved skills, infrastructure, and the confidence that grows from achievement.

Zambia has been strategic in using its polio infrastructure for outbreaks of other communicable diseases. It's helped to detect and respond to cholera, Marburg Fever, Ebola and yellow fever. As we prepare now against avian and human influenza, those surveillance skills form a vital part of outbreak alert and response. WHO has been working closely with UNICEF, the World Bank and other agencies as well as other partners such as the US-led International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza.

I would again like to thank the Government of Zambia for hosting World Health Day here in Lusaka. It was a spectacular and most enjoyable launch for The world health report 2006. We are most grateful for your warm welcome to us, and for the programme which has allowed me to connect with so many of the "movers and shakers" in health leadership.

Chief among those leaders is your President. I regret that I am unable to thank him in person. Through you, I thank him for his support for health. I also thank, most warmly, the Honourable Vice-President, and the Honourable Minister of Health. You are already putting the recommendations of the World Health Report into action.

May I propose a toast: To working together for health! Thank you.