20 September 2006

Secretary-General, at Official Launch of UNITAID, Lauds International Drug Purchase Facility as Shining Example of Innovative Funding

NEW YORK, 19 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks at the official launch of UNITAID, the International Drug Purchase Facility, in New York today, 19 September:

I am delighted that you have gathered here today for the official launch of this life-saving initiative.  Let me thank the Governments who have worked together to make it happen.

UNITAID is deeply encouraging news in the world of financing for development.  This international facility for the purchase of drugs is a shining example of an innovative source of funding that can help us reach the Millennium Development Goals.

Let me congratulate the Governments of France, Brazil, Chile, Norway and the United Kingdom on their leadership in developing this initiative, and in advancing similar innovative financing mechanisms, such as the International Financing Facility.

UNITAID is a model of its kind for many reasons.  It is an approach that can be made to work rapidly.  It is flexible, in that more countries can easily join the original members.  And it is a lean mechanism, which complements the existing global architecture for health, inside and outside the UN system.

UNITAID can use its purchasing power to leverage price reductions for quality drugs and diagnostics, and accelerate the pace at which they are made available.  It can provide a stable and continuous source of financing for health-care programmes, particularly in low-income countries.  And it can help reassure developing countries of the long-term commitment of the international community.

In this way, UNITAID provides a real and immediate tool to help scale up access to treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB.

The United Nations system stands ready to help UNITAID succeed in any way we can. Let me thank WHO, UNICEF, UNAIDS for their engagement.

I am also pleased that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and the Clinton Foundation will be actively involved.

I hope this new facility will apply all the important lessons we have learnt over the past few decades.  I hope it will avoid duplication, by making full use of existing institutions and development partners.  I hope it will build on existing national capacity.  And I hope it will listen to and take full account of the real needs of those it exists to help.

I wish UNITAID every success on its journey.  I congratulate the Governments who have made this possible.

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