|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
AIDS-free Generation within Reach, Says Secretary-General, Urging Forbes 400
Summit to Help Wipe Out Deaths from Biggest Global Health Threats
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the second annual Forbes 400 Summit, in New York, on 5 June:
I am delighted to join this remarkable Summit. It is a pleasure to welcome you to United Nations Headquarters. I salute the many philanthropists who have made major contributions to the United Nations.
Today, I want to enlist your engagement in an historic campaign to save millions of lives and set our world on a more peaceful and prosperous path. Ted Turner led the way 15 years ago with his remarkable $1 billion contribution.
More recently, Ray Chambers got involved upon seeing a picture of what he thought were sleeping children in Africa. When he learned these children were actually in comas caused by malaria, he took action. Since then, the global campaign to end malaria deaths has achieved historic progress.
Today, we have the power and the knowledge to wipe out deaths from five of the world’s biggest health threats: malaria, polio, tetanus, measles and HIV infections in newborns. We can do this, not just in our lifetimes, but in just five years.
We have already cut malaria deaths by 40 per cent in just seven years. This averts needless tragedies and strengthens national economies. Every dollar spent in fighting malaria in Africa generates $40 in gross domestic product (GDP).
Bill and Melinda Gates have shown inspiring leadership on polio. India was declared polio-free more than a year ago. Now, the disease is endemic only in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. All three Governments are cooperating with us to end polio forever.
We also want to stop mother-to-child transmission of HIV. In a recent two-year period, we cut one quarter of all new infections. An AIDS-free generation is within reach.
Two of the five diseases, however, are “orphaned”. Tetanus and measles get less international attention, but have the same great potential for results. Tetanus is often contracted by mothers and babies during unhygienic deliveries. The fatality rate can be 100 per cent. But, a vaccine and other simple measures can eliminate the threat. Measles deaths have been cut by more than 70 per cent since 2000. But, this disease is still a leading killer of children.
I ask all of you here to help us finish the job. Five diseases, five years; we can do it. There are also many other areas where you can get involved: maternal health; hunger and nutrition; clean water and sanitation; getting kids in school and keeping them there; sustainable energy, a huge growth industry and a way to address both poverty and climate change simultaneously. Supporting these challenges is a smart investment in the world’s future well-being.
Let me also make a special appeal. The United Nations is striving to do everything it can to eliminate cholera from Haiti. But, to support the Government, we need to fill a severe funding gap. The long-term solution is to strengthen the health system and ensure clean drinking water and sanitation for all. But, we can and must save lives today with an oral cholera vaccine. What Haiti needs is a partner ready to provide $1 million a year for the next three to five years to underwrite free vaccines for the poor and vulnerable people who need them most. The United Nations will do its part to raise resources and strengthen the cholera response. But, we also need partners who can make a difference for the people of Haiti.
The engagement of the private sector and philanthropic community is growing in size, sophistication and global reach. We at the United Nations want to collaborate even more for even greater results. My partnership initiatives — Every Woman, Every Child, Sustainable Energy for All, Global Education First and the Zero Hunger Challenge — aim to galvanize action as never before. The United Nations has a global presence. We can translate your philanthropic aspirations into results on the ground.
I have asked some of my best people to continue our conversation today. I look forward to your ideas on how we can work together to save millions of lives and set the world on course for a better future.
* *** *For information media • not an official record