Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks at the launch of the Foreign Policy and Global Health Initiative

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 27 September 2007

I am delighted to be with you at this launch of the Foreign Policy and Global Health Initiative. Let me thank all of you -- the Foreign Ministers of Brazil, France, Indonesia, Norway, Senegal, South Africa and Thailand -- for coming together to use diplomacy in securing better health for all, particularly for the most vulnerable.

As a former Foreign Minister, I am the first to agree that foreign policy practitioners should adopt a broad approach in addressing issues that respect no borders.

Health is crucial among those issues. Disease, slowed development and global insecurity are inextricably linked. Both domestic and foreign policies determine the extent to which people’s prospects are undermined by ill health.

Thanks to the efforts of many global actors, we now appreciate that investment in health is a cornerstone of economic growth and development, and a prerequisite for reaching most of the Millennium Development Goals. The security of all countries depends more and more on the capacity of each to act effectively, and collectively, to minimize current risks to health. That applies equally to emerging threats that cannot be fully predicted.

In our increasingly globalized world, what happens in one country can have dramatic effects in many others. From AIDS to avian influenza, we have learned that we need to work in synergy to address these threats that affect us all.

And we have learned that the work to ensure global public health should not be left to health ministries alone. Health is affected by a range of factors -- from extreme poverty and armed conflict to climate change, biotechnology, changing patterns of human behaviour and access to essential services. It requires a joined-up effort in Government decision-making processes, from foreign policy and financial planning to trade, transport and industrial strategies. And it requires working hand in glove with civil society and the private sector -- with a focus, always, on children, women and the most vulnerable.

New money and new actors are entering the global public-health arena every day. Let us use this to our advantage. Let us use it to push for resilient societies, which are able to realize the Millennium Development Goals -- reducing child and maternal mortality; combating AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis; and empowering communities to emerge from poverty. Let us use it to work together to strengthen health systems around the world, and enable more people to access them.

As foreign ministers from four continents pioneering this initiative, you have a critical role to play in raising the profile of global public health. You can help achieve the cultural shift needed to include a health perspective in all multilateral, regional or bilateral arenas. You can help provide the impetus needed to reach the health Millennium Development Goals, and help build for a more secure world for all.

I thank all of you for your commitment, and wish the Foreign Policy and Global Health Initiative every success.