Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks to special event on Philanthropy and the Global Public Health Agenda

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 23 February 2009

It is a pleasure to welcome you to this ECOSOC Special Event on Philanthropy and the Global Public Health Agenda.

As you know, global health is one of my top priorities. The reason is simple: health is a foundation for prosperity, stability and poverty reduction.

The role of philanthropists and philanthropic organizations such as those here today is crucially important in advancing the global health agenda. So many of you are active in this arena. Your involvement has produced commendable results for vulnerable people throughout the world.

My hope is that we can do even more together. Just as I am striving to ensure that the United Nations delivers as one, so do I want all partners to come together to deliver as one in the field of global health.

That means coordinating the leadership from the UN family and national governments with the expertise of foundations, research centres and academia, the innovative spirit of the private sector, and the dynamism of civil society.

We have a lot to learn from what we have been doing in the fight against malaria. We have experienced a paradigm shift in the way we work. By making joint efforts and strengthening coordination, the malaria community has achieved real gains. In some African countries there has been a dramatic decline in the incidence of malaria. What we have done with malaria we can do with other diseases and health issues.

I am pleased to note that women's and girl's health and neglected tropical diseases are on your agenda today. These are areas in which concerted investment of attention and resources would bring a particularly high return.

Women are engines of development and drivers of improved health. Maternal health is a critical component of the well-being of any society. Yet among all the Millennium Development Goals, this is where there has been least progress. Every year, more than half a million mothers around the world die during childbirth. We must put an end to these senseless deaths.

With respect to neglected tropical diseases, as you know these afflict about one billion of the world's poorest people. Yet these diseases are largely treatable. Moreover, controlling them offers a powerful strategy for tackling many of the conditions that promote poverty. We need to scale up action against these diseases and eradicate the ones we can.

Addressing these challenges becomes even more important at a time of crisis. The economic crisis is putting at risk the unprecedented rise in public and private funding we have witnessed in recent years. The food crisis and the threats posed by climate change have profound implications for people's health and well-being.

I challenge you to think radically about how we can take our efforts to the next level, and forge a truly powerful global partnership for global health.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you again for your commitment to progress in this area of vital concern to the world's people.

I would also like to thank former U.S. President Bill Clinton for the great passion he is bringing to the field. I understand he will offer closing remarks later this afternoon. I regret that I will not be able to join you at that time. But you will be in good hands. The Clinton Global Initiative is doing extraordinary work, including on maternal health, where progress has been especially difficult to achieve. President Clinton merits high praise for this work.

Thank you all again for being part of this effort.

I offer you my best wishes for a successful gathering.