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Summit on the Millennium Development Goals

Summit on the Millennium Development Goals

Published on September 20, 2010
Meeting of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – Speech by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

New York, September 21, 2010

At the end of the 1990s, in the countries of the South, getting HIV/AIDS meant being condemned to death. The very idea of giving all AIDS patients, wherever they were, the treatment they needed to survive was impossible. Treating them was impossible.

As you know, France led the way in this battle by establishing the first International Therapeutic Solidarity Fund in 1998. This was proof that access to treatment for the three pandemics, AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, was not only a moral duty but also an achievable objective.

The Global Fund, a tool that was revolutionary in its ambitions and method of operation, was created in 2002. There were only a few of us – including, Mr Ban Ki-moon, your predecessor – who believed in it.

Remember, the others didn’t believe in it, they said “it’s impossible” and more or less “you don’t have the right.” When you’re told you haven’t got the right to do something then that’s another reason to do it.

What has happened in eight years? Large-scale prevention, treatment and healthcare programmes to combat the three diseases have been set up in 144 countries. The Global Fund has devoted more than $20 billion to them. More than 5 million lives have thus been saved and almost 3 million people infected with HIV/AIDS have been treated. Who would have thought ten years ago that we would achieve such results?

One of the main obstacles to the treatment was originally the cost of the medicines, which were beyond the reach of 90% of patients. This situation was quite simply unacceptable. Here too, France’s action was decisive: the creation of UNITAID, a payment facility designed to reduce the cost of the medicines.

Today France is strengthening her commitment to the Global Fund. We have been the second-leading donor in the world since its creation. In a few days’ time, Secretary-General, you will chair the Global Fund Replenishment Conference (2011-2013). France will be a loyal supporter of this event: President Sarkozy announced yesterday in his speech at the Summit on the Millennium Development Goals that our country will raise its contribution to 20%, increasing it from €900 million to €1.08 billion for the period 2011-2013.

Secretary-General, ladies and gentlemen,

We have all agreed to a major effort over the last few years, but, as we know, there is still much to be done. Working together is the only way to really achieve the objectives that we jointly set ourselves in 2000 in the battle against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

We therefore urge all our partners to renew their efforts alongside the Global Fund. For the recipient countries, this means strengthening their healthcare systems. The provision of funds to combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria must be accompanied by a concurrent strengthening of healthcare and health insurance systems. If health insurance systems are strengthened, we will be able to treat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria far more effectively. That’s not contradictory, it’s complementary. These countries must devote the necessary resources in accordance with the Abuja commitments (15% of States’ budgets for healthcare expenditure). For the traditional donor countries, this means maintaining or increasing their financial effort, despite the budgetary constraints we are all experiencing. Lastly, the emerging countries, which are now making a significant contribution to world growth, must shoulder their full responsibility in the joint effort to achieve the MDGs.

I would like to say one last word on innovative financing. All our Official Development Assistance won’t be enough. Of course, we have to make the recipient countries, the African countries in particular, understand that what we want to achieve through innovative financing will be in addition to our ODA and won’t replace any of it. We held a conference with almost all the African countries who believed that innovative financing was going to allow us to withdraw [some of] our ODA. Not at all, it’s complementary financing we need.

France has worked as part of a group consisting of 60 countries. It’s a small contribution, a very small contribution: 0.005% on financial transactions which would allow us to collect enough tens of billions of dollars or euros to pursue the task.

Secretary-General, I pay tribute to your commitment to world health and in particular to the health of women and children. You can count on France’s full support.

Thank you./.

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