Neglected tropical diseases

Speech delivered by His Excellency Dr Ali Mohamed Shein
Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania

19 APRIL 2007
Your Excellency Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, Excellencies Heads of State and Governments, Honourable Heads of Delegations, distinguished participants, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I wish to join hands with others in congratulating Your Excellency Madam Margaret Chan on your appointment as the WHO Director-General. I believe that you will serve this important institution with dedication.

I am most grateful for the honour extended to me to offer a keynote address to this Global Partners Meeting on Neglected Tropical Diseases. On behalf of the Government and the people of the United Republic of Tanzania, and on my own behalf, I wish to express my profound appreciation to you, Madam Director-General, and the entire staff of the World Health Organization, for the initiative of convening this important meeting to share views on effective measures to curb these diseases.

Madam chair, as we are all aware, these diseases have devastating effects on the lives of many people in the developing countries, particularly in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. It is an extremely important meeting, and I believe it will be seen as a demonstration of solidarity among our governments and various agencies as well as organizations that work together to relieve the people, particularly the poor people, from the unnecessary burden of these diverse tropical diseases.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to observe that, under your able leadership, the World Health Organization continues to have a special concern for strengthening the delivery of health care services to poor people, especially in Africa. As I understand, you and your staff recognize the urgent need to reach out to marginalized populations, particularly women, girls and young children, who are at a high risk from diseases.

I would say with confidence that had the founding father of our nation, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, still been with us today, he would have endorsed and supported without hesitation the efforts by the World Health Organization to develop effective policies for the sustainable delivery of health care services to the people.

But let me also take this opportunity to reassure you, and your organization, of the full support of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, and my personal support, for all these noble efforts. I believe that other countries in Africa should not only render their full support but also join in these efforts to achieve sustainable health service delivery.

Honourable delegates, ladies and gentlemen, I must say that the opportunity to address this distinguished gathering here today has given me the chance not only to reflect on some thoughts on the themes which will be discussed at this meeting but also to share with you the experience of Tanzania in combating these so-called neglected diseases. I believe you all know that these diseases have consequences which impact negatively on the efforts of a developing country such as Tanzania to achieve socioeconomic advancement.

I shall now share with this distinguished gathering some thoughts of the five themes. These are:

  • the so-called neglected tropical diseases;
  • the impact that these diseases have on national development;
  • the unacceptable persistence of the diseases;
  • the delivery of accessible health care to people in need;
  • the importance of partnership for the provision of accessible health care

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