Tribute to Dr LEE Jong-wook
H.E. Mr LEE Sung-joo
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea
Madame President, Director-General and distinguished delegates
Today, I stand here to pay tribute to the late Dr Lee Jong-wook, who passed away unexpectedly one year ago today. It is indeed a great honour to be here with all of you to commemorate the life and work of Dr Lee.
Born in the Republic of Korea, the late Dr Lee started his career as a volunteer worker at a small hospital in a remote South Pacific island. His example provides inspiration to the many young public health workers posted in remote areas often in the most difficult conditions, dedicating their time and energy to improving public health conditions around the world.
Dr Lee was a man of action. He never hesitated to confront head-on difficult issues. Today's large and complicated public health challenges require enhancing the public awareness and mobilizing the full capacities of the international community. Dr Lee understood this clearly and succeeded in accomplishing both.
His legacy pervades the international community's public health agenda, such as polio eradication; the programmes for HIV/IADS; malaria and TB in the Millennium Development Goals; and the international Health Regulations, an international legal framework to respond to international health risks, which will become effective in June 2007.
While achieving great accomplishments in his public work, he had a simple and humble life - living in a small flat in the vicinity of Geneva, commuting in a compact hybrid car and travelling with his old suitcase, worn out from countless travels in the service of others.
The government of the Republic of Korea plans to launch a Memorial Prize in his memory to motivate and inspire young leaders aspiring to be the next Dr Lee Jong-wook. Taking this opportunity, I would like to ask members of the Executive Board and the World Health Assembly to lend their support to our proposal.