Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization
15 May 2007 | Geneva
Address to Sixtieth World Health Assembly
Quotation from Dr Margaret Chan's speech, Director-General of the World Health Organization.
" "Health development includes the chronic diseases and the neglected tropical diseases. Both groups of diseases are strongly associated with poverty. They deepen poverty and hold back economic progress."
"Last month, the first meeting of global partners for the neglected tropical diseases was held. This was a turning point. Prospects for reducing the burden of debilitating diseases for at least one billion people have never looked brighter.
The eradication of a disease is the ultimate contribution to sustainable health development. We have two such initiatives under way: for polio and for guinea worm disease.
Two weeks ago, I visited Afghanistan and Pakistan, two of the four remaining countries where indigenous transmission of wild poliovirus has not yet been interrupted. I spoke with the President of Afghanistan and the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and received their full commitment.
Following an urgent consultation with stakeholders in February, we developed a new case for completing polio eradication. Finishing the job is our best buy. We must do it. We are leaving a perpetual gift to generations of children to come.
Guinea worm disease has seen a dramatic decrease. Cases have declined from 3.5 million in 1985 to only 25,000 today. Like polio, we must finish the job."
"You heard about this strategy yesterday from the outgoing President. Let me highlight some key points.
First, the strategy acknowledges that Africa will not experience economic growth until the burden from infectious diseases is reduced.
Second, the main focus of the strategy is on the urgent need to strengthen health systems. The ability to deliver essential interventions to those in need is regarded as the greatest challenge facing health care in Africa."
"And I am not reopening the debate about horizontal versus vertical programmes. We need both, but they need to work better together.
For example, the river blindness control programme began as a vertical programme, but eventually developed the community-directed approach for drug distribution.""