5 June 2006

Secretary-General, at Launch of International Drug Purchase Facility, Says Bold Initiative Example of Leadership Needed to Defeat AIDS

NEW YORK, 2 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following are UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks at the luncheon hosted by Brazil, Chile, France and Norway to launch the International Drug Purchase Facility, in connection with the General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AIDS, in New York, 2 June:

I am delighted that you have gathered here today to discuss a subject of such vital importance.  Let me thank all the Governments who have worked for innovative financing proposals, and whose ministers are here with us.

Let me also say a special word of appreciation to our friends from the world of sport.  Thank you for harnessing the magic of football to our fight against HIV/AIDS.

Above all, let me congratulate the Government of France on the bold and commendable initiative it is launching today.  The launch of an International Drug Purchase Facility, to be financed by an air ticket solidarity levy -- with emphasis on the word "solidarity" and not "levy" -- is deeply encouraging news in the world of financing for development.

It is a real and immediate example of how innovative sources can be used to help the world achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Placing these modest surcharges on the cost of airline tickets is a practical way to raise funds for development.  Contributions will come from people who can afford them.  It is an approach that can be implemented rapidly.  And it is flexible, which means that, over time, more countries can join.

In this way, the creation of the International Drug Purchase Facility opens up a new chapter in efforts to secure predictable and sustainable supplies of drugs and diagnostics for those who need them most.

It offers hope for our work to bridge the divide between developing and developed countries in the availability and affordability of safe drugs -- drugs that are essential to fight HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.

Six and half million people living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries need antiretrovirals immediately.  Yet fewer than one and a half million have access to them.

That is why it is so fitting that this initiative is being launched this week, as Governments are gathered for the General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AIDS.

It is an example of the kind of leadership we need to defeat AIDS and the other killers of our time.

I hope we will see more of that kind of leadership emerge from this week's session.

And I hope that leadership will be sustained until we reach our destination, as expressed in the Millennium Development Goals.  I am grateful to you for playing your part in that mission to the full.

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