Press Releases

    18 September 2002


    NEW YORK, 17 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette at the launch of the World Health Organization exhibition "Poverty and Health: Challenges to Development in Africa", on 16 September:

    I am delighted to be here to open this important exhibition focusing on challenges to development in Africa in the field of poverty and health.

    Two years ago, all the world’s countries adopted the Millennium Declaration -- a blueprint for improving people’s lives in the twenty-first century.

    In our work to reach those goals, there is nothing more crucial than addressing the needs of Africa, where poverty and health challenges are the most acute.

    Up to half of Africa’s population lives on less than one dollar a day.

    Africa has the highest number of HIV/AIDS infections in the world. In addition to the appalling human suffering that this implies, the AIDS pandemic constitutes a devastating obstacle to development.

    HIV/AIDS also spurs the incidence of tuberculosis in Africa. Every year, there are 1.6 million new cases of TB in the continent, and every year, 600,000 Africans die of the disease.

    Another of the leading killers, malaria, is estimated to have caused a loss of up to 20 per cent of gross domestic product in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Child diseases and water-borne diseases, too, are severely hampering Africa’s chances of lifting itself out of poverty. The same applies to Africa’s rate of maternal deaths, which is the highest in the world.

    That is why this exhibition is so important. It is here to raise awareness of the urgent challenges facing Africa in the fight for health and against poverty. It is here to tell us about lessons learnt and best practices in that fight.

    It is here to tell us that in that fight, every one of us can make a difference by mobilizing those around us.

    That kind of personal commitment is being demonstrated to us by individuals across Africa, who are taking courageous initiatives to help communities help themselves. I applaud the World Health Organization for launching a campaign to back that movement.

    And I am heartened that this exhibition is being held under the patronage of the Presidents of Nigeria and Senegal -- two of the Governments that initiated the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

    The NEPAD reflects Africa’s determination to provide African solutions to African problems, and the need for the international community to support that process.

    We must provide that support. In that endeavour, let this exhibition be an inspiration to us all.

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