Address by Anders Nordström, Acting Director-General

International Drug Procurement Facility
7 June 2006

Monsieur le Ministre, je tiens tout d’abord à vous remercier pour cette initiative. C’est une initiative très importante, importante pour l’OMS et pour le monde, et pour toutes les personnes atteintes de maladies transmissibles.

C’était une initiative très importante pour le Dr Lee, le Directeur général de l’OMS. La mort du Dr Lee a été un choc pour les personnes qui travaillaient avec lui, de même que pour l’ensemble de l’Organisation.

[MinisterDouste-Blazy, I would like to start by thanking you for this initiative. This is a very important initiative, important for WHO, important for the world, and for all those affected by infectious diseases.

It was an important initiative for Dr Lee, the late Director-General of WHO, whose death was a shock for all those who worked with him, and for the entire Organization.]

The launch of this initiative today is an important tribute to the dedication and the work of JW Lee. He spent three years of his life being the Director-General of WHO. In total he spent 23 years of his life working for the Organization. The majority of that time he was working in the field of communicable diseases - immunization, tuberculosis - key health issues for people around the world.

From WHO 's point of view, today is an opportunity to show that we will continue Dr Lee's work on this initiative, and we will continue our work to try to improve health for people on the ground.

I would like to thank the Government of France, other governments, and the other key partners that have joined this very creative financial initiative.

There is a need for more money, but not the same old money. New money is needed. This initiative is a very important step in that direction, towards making this a reality, and we are very grateful for that.

What are the challenges?
People are dying. People have no access to basic medicines nor to basic health services. There is a lack of management in terms of infrastructure. There are not enough drugs getting to people in need and not enough staff in the health centres.

What is the solution?
This is part of the solution. We must invest more in order to reduce costs by expanding the market. We must speed up production and get the drugs out to the people in a speedier way.

WHO's experience with the Global TB Drug Facility shows that this can be done. In five years this drug facility has actually delivered drugs to 7.3 million people and has reduced the cost of TB drugs by 30%. We hope to be able to build on this.

WHO´s commitment is to continue Dr Lee's very strong support to the initial work on this. We want to make this happen in the countries where the greatest needs are.

We will continue to work with you, and other key partners, to look into the practical aspects of this. WHO's technical competence is available, especially when it comes to prequalification of drugs. This service was much appreciated over the last year. We will also see what we can do to help sustain crucial political support.

What will your tax euros or tax kroners contribute towards?

Today 1.5 million people are on HIV /AIDS treatment. The "3 by 5" initiative, launched by JW Lee when he came into office three years ago, didn't reach the 3 million targeted. But we did reach 1.5 million people, and we did make the world understand that access to treatment is important. However, there are still 6 million people who need antiretroviral treatment. We hope that this initiative will be able to contribute towards their needs.

For children, the situation is even worse. An estimated 660 000 children under the age of 15 in poor and middle-income countries need triple therapy for HIV/AIDS. Only 20 000 have access to treatment today.

Malaria affects more than 2 billion people every year. A large majority of these are children. Combination therapy, which is available today, is expensive - more expensive than conventional therapy. More money is needed to allow people to be treated and not to die.

The Stop TB Partnership anticipates that 50 million people will need first-line treatment over the next 10 years. We have heard President Clinton today saying that there is also a need for second-line drugs treatment, and that the costs for this are expected to amount to US$ 320 million. Again, the need is for more money and innovative mechanisms to access this.

In conclusion, WHO very much welcomes this initiative and we stand to support it in the best possible way we can.