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Annan Calls For Renewed Efforts To Improve Health

Annan Calls For Renewed Efforts To Improve Health Care Systems In The Developing World

New York, Jun 30 2005

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for serious efforts to build affordable and efficient health systems in the developing world, particularly in Africa, which will require 1 million new health workers to meet internationally agreed development targets for the 21st century.

"[The] connections between health, development and security have become increasingly clear…and it has become equally clear that health systems around the world are nowhere near equipped to deal with the challenges facing them," Mr. Annan said in an address at a dinner marking the 500th anniversary of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

>From established epidemics like HIV/AIDS to newly emergent diseases such as SARS and bird flu, health threats on multiple fronts have proved that global cooperation in the health sector is no longer a choice, but an imperative, said Mr. Annan.

"It is clear that to address these challenges, we must make new and serious efforts to build health systems in the developing world – systems that afford universal access," Mr. Annan said, stressing that at the core of that mission was the need to remedy the acute shortage of health workers in so many developing countries.

He noted that Africa alone would require 1 million new health workers to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the ambitious set of targets for slashing a host of socio-economic ills afflicting the world by 2015. "Without such a dramatic increase in capacity, paediatric immunizations would not be administered, curable diseases would go untreated and women would keep dying in childbirth."

"As fellows of the Royal College, you already play an important part. By building on the exceptional standards and traditions of Scottish medicine, by taking in colleagues form overseas and assisting them with training and clinical placement, you are making a valuable contribution to the work to strengthen health systems around the world," the Secretary-General said.

Noting that the College was celebrating its 500th anniversary, Mr. Annan said the UN was in the midst of celebrating its 60th year. In September, world leaders were expected to gather at UN Headquarters in New York for the "largest summit the world has ever seen" to tackle head on some of the most pressing challenges of the day, including how to defeat poverty and ensure broader security and human rights for all.

While progress is possible, it will depend on the will of governments, such as the Group of Eight industrialized countries (G8), which will meet near Edinburgh in Gleneagles next week, Mr. Annan said, adding: "And it will depend on the engagement of groups and individuals such as you."


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