Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

22 March 2012

Secretary-General's Press Encounter at Commemoration of World TB Day

SG: This year’s commemoration of World Tuberculosis Day has been very meaningful for me.
And I’m very happy to visit this institute today. I just met two patients. My wife and myself provided some medicines to two patients. I’m very much humbled and at the same time encouraged that they are given this service, very kind and caring service.
I’m also very happy to see that that they are receiving treatment. One lady told me that she was fully recovered. I really wanted to give them a strong sense of hope. Behind them everybody is here, government and people, doctors and nurses who are taking care of them.
I’m sure that their families are relieved that their suffering is ending. I commend the Government of Malaysia for funding the response to Tuberculosis and helping patients here, as well as so many others.
Malaysia has taken two big steps.  First the Government funded free services and treatment for everyone.  This is remarkable. Second, Malaysia integrated Tuberculosis into the primary healthcare system. This makes good sense and it makes a great difference in people’s lives.
We see Malaysia’s commitment on the basis of the staff here at the Institute, they are so dedicated, warm and caring.  My wish is that TB patients around the world get holistic care like here in Malaysia.
Too many people infected with TB are suffering from fevers, chills, coughing, and fear that their symptoms will get worse.  This disease also affects the lungs, but it can target other organs.
Tuberculosis mostly affects the poor. This is a disease of poverty.
The United Nations marks the World TB Day to shine the spotlight on this killer.  We observe the day each year on March 24.  Today, on 22 March, just two days before this anniversary, I’m very pleased to visit this Institute.
On that day, 130 years ago, in 1882, Dr. Robert Koch announced the discovery of Tuberculosis. That paved the way for diagnosing and curing TB.
Over the past two decades, more than 46million people have been cured and more than 7 million people saved their lives.
In this region alone, just since last year, 10 million people were diagnosed and treated. That avoided some 800, 000 deaths.
The Western Pacific is on track to reach our international TB goals.
But globally, among all infectious diseases, TB remains the second leading killer of others. Our goal now is to stop TB in our lifetime.
I call for intensified global solidarity to reach this goal. For too long, the response has been insufficient.
Now the United Nations takes very seriously, with a high priority, to stop TB.

As soon as I became Secretary-General five years ago, a little more five years ago, I appointed a special advisor, a special representative, to stop TB. I appointed the former President of Portugal, Mr. Santayo. He is acting as my Special Adviser to stop TB. This is to raise… He’s not a medical doctor, but he is a political leader. He’s travelling and working very hard to raise awareness to stop Tuberculosis.
Not only Tuberculosis, I have set a very ambitious goal as the Secretary-General which I announced on 25 January this year. I announced to the General Assembly that during my five-year term as the Secretary-General, I try to wipe off these five major killers. 
First is polio. Polio is almost on the verge of extinction on the earth, like smallpox.  If we do well, we can eliminate polio from the earth. There are only four countries that still have polio viruses.
Second is malaria.  By 2015, after three years, our target is to get rid of malaria deaths. We may not be able to eliminate malaria from the earth, but at least there should be nobody dying, and no children should have to die from malaria within three years.  By providing insecticide treated bassinets, by providing medicine. We are almost there. I think we can do it.
Thirdly, pediatric HIV infection. One or two children transmission that we can stop this one.
Fourth, Tetanus. Tetanus we can fix.
Measles is the fifth disease.  Five diseases, if we do well in five years, we can get rid of.
Tuberculosis we have to do more for TB. There are still 8.4 million people who get ill because of this killer, 1.4 million people die so we have to do more for Tuberculosis.
I’m very much encouraged to see all these facilities where people are committed, where people have hope.
Malaysian government is taking a leadership role by providing free services. This is really good.
Ladies & gentlemen, Minister and distinguished Ministers, let us vow to end Tuberculosis death in our lifetime so that future generations will think “TB, this stands for Tuberculosis, TB
Tuberculosis beaten, TB Tuberculosis vanished”.  Or if I can lend my name, my name is Ban, some people pronounce my name “Ban” so “Tuberculosis Banned”.
Thank you very much. Terima kasih.
Q: Good morning Your Excellency Mr Ban, what is your main call or message for the World Stop TB Day 2012?
SG: Just two days before we will mark another World TB Day, we have to raise our voices, with determined will, we need the political will to eradicate this tuberculosis.  As I said, last year, 8.4million people get TB and 1.4 million people died. This is unnecessary death, this can be prevented. I have seen very encouraging policies from the Malaysian Government. The Malaysian Government has taken this TB priority as their national health policy.
This is a very commendable one. I call for intensified global solidarity to ensure that the children and people of all the countries get support, medical support, so that they can breathe with health. ‘Stop TB in our lifetime’ is the theme for this year. We have the means to help this preventable, unnecessary death. That’s the commitment of the United Nations.  And I thank Dato Seri Liong  for his leadership and also for his strong commitment.
Q: Your Excellency, what is your opinion of the Ministry of Health’s TB control programme in Malaysia?
SG: I’m very pleased to find the Ministry of Health TB Control Programme, the commitment to make treatment of TB free of charge for everyone, is remarkable, a very commendable policy. I also applaud Malaysia’s commitment to making available diagnostic testing and treatment free of charge for everyone. The integration of national TB control programme into Malaysia’s primary healthcare infrastructure is also an effective and very efficient way of providing services to many people. I encourage greater collaboration between these different sectors where appropriate.