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World Health Organization commends G8 commitment to the health of the people in Africa

Statement by Dr LEE Jong-wook, Director-General, World Health Organization

8 July 2005

Today the G8 has made an unprecedented commitment to health which has the potential to forever change the lives of millions of people in Africa.

Disease kills 3.5 million African children under five every year. HIV/AIDS affects more than 25 million African people. Tuberculosis kills 1500 each day. A woman living in sub-Saharan Africa has a 1 in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth. I welcome the G8's pledge to turn these trends around.

The aim of providing near-universal access to AIDS treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS by 2010, combined with prevention and care, has the potential to turn the tide on this epidemic. We already know that treatment can turn a fatal disease into a chronic condition and we have demonstrated that this works in resource-poor countries.

Reaching the malaria targets with known and affordable interventions will also save the lives of children and allow people to harness their social and economic potential. The commitment to help meet the needs to control tuberculosis is also a critical step.

The G8 have already contributed enormously to polio eradication. The pledge of continued support through 2008 will help to eradicate this disease, and be sure no child is at risk again.

To make a difference which can impact generations of people, the G8 recognizes that health systems must be strengthened. Efforts to ensure health workers can be trained, and have incentive to remain and work in their regions, is a key component of a strong health system.

For more information contact:

Ms Christine McNab
Communications Officer
Director-General’s Office - WHO
Telephone: +41 22 791 4688
Mobile phone: +41 79 254 6815