Ms Peng Liyuan is appointed WHO Goodwill Ambassador

Dr Margaret Chan
Director-General of the World Health Organization

Remarks on the appointment of Ms Peng Liyuan as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis and HIV
Geneva, Switzerland

3 June 2011

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

As you have just heard from Dr Nakatani, WHO has clear strategies and policies, and high ambitions in its work to combat the co-epidemics of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

These are killer diseases, together claiming more than 3.5 million lives each year, mainly in the developing world. They cause immense suffering, place a heavy burden on health care services, and carry enormous consequences for societies and economies.

Unfortunately, these two diseases work very well together in a ferocious synergy, each one amplifying the consequences of the other.

But we have made enormous progress against both diseases in just the past decade. We know what to do to prevent infections and save or prolong lives.

The numbers of infections and deaths are still way too high, but they are going down as access to information, medicines, and care becomes more widely available.

Both diseases have strong behavioural components that can be influenced by powerful, respected people.

Both diseases are associated with discrimination, which can again be influenced by a well-known personality, with a beautiful voice and a compassionate heart.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am extremely pleased to announce today that the acclaimed Chinese folk singer, Ms Peng Liyuan, has agreed to support WHO’s international work on tuberculosis and HIV by serving as our Goodwill Ambassador.

With numerous honours bestowed on her nationally and internationally, she is a big bright star with a huge and respectful audience of admirers.

We are extremely proud that an actress and artist of Ms Peng’s standing will now lend her world-famous voice, and her compassionate heart, to support WHO’s work on these two diseases, where influencing people makes such an important difference.

In a sense, this will be a natural and well-rehearsed role. Ms Peng has long worked on advocacy for these diseases in areas ranging from the care of AIDS orphans to the importance of HIV testing and taking appropriate protective precautions.

Her personal devotion has taken her to poverty-stricken areas to visit TB patients. She has made donations for HIV/AIDS-affected children. And she fights, with an artist’s passion and persuasive power, against discrimination.

Before announcing her appointment formally, I would like for us to view a video which can help you visualize some of the things I have just said.

Madame Peng Liyuan, Your Excellency Ambassador HE Yafei, Your Excellency Vice-Minister Yin Li, delegates from the government and Ministry of Health of China, representatives of the Global Fund, UNAIDS, UNITAID, and FIND, members of civil society organizations, WHO colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

I am extremely pleased today to designate Ms Peng Liyuan as the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis and HIV.

Ms Peng, we admire the dedication you have so convincingly shown in helping children, orphans, women, and men in China who are struggling to survive and overcome the devastating effects of these diseases.

We believe that this same dedication in support of WHO’s work on the international stage will help us reach many millions more with a powerful voice for raising international awareness as well as behavioural change at the individual level. By doing so, we can ensure that people at risk have easier access to information and services to prevent and manage TB and HIV.

We see you as a critical bridge that brings policy-makers together with affected people, who are often poor and have little political voice.

We believe that through your music, art, and compassion, you will be the role model that inspires many more people, whether powerful and influential or just ordinary citizens, to join the fight against these two diseases.

Again, thank you, Ms Peng, for agreeing to become the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis and HIV.

In doing so, you step onto another international stage where your voice, passion, and presence will bring much good will and do much good, not only in China, but for the millions of people affected by these diseases in every corner of the world.

Thank you.