Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization
1 February 2007 – Thailand
On 1 February 2007, WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan delivered the keynote address at the Prince Mahidol Award Conference held in Bangkok, Thailand. The conference was devoted to the topic of Improving access to essential health technologies: focusing on neglected diseases, reaching neglected populations.
Dr Chan's presentation outlined achievements in reaching "the people left behind", and described these achievements as a neglected success story. She called for more resources and more research to build on this success. She stressed that doing so has the potential to improve the lives - and prosperity - of at least 1 billion people.
Excerpts from Dr Margaret Chan's speech, Director-General of the World Health Organization.
"They maim, debilitate, blind, disfigure, and kill. They permanently diminish human potential, and do so in large populations".
"If emerging diseases, like SARS or pandemic influenza, are at the high end of the health and security agenda, the neglected tropical diseases are at the other end".
"These are not new and frightening diseases. They are ancient. They do not flare up in outbreaks with high mortality. They do not grab the headlines. They do not travel abroad or threaten international security".
"The numbers affected are difficult to comprehend. At least 1 billion people – one-sixth of the world population – currently suffer from one or more of these diseases".