Remarks by John Monahan, Counsellor to the Secretary for Health and Human Services, on the Secretary-General's Forum on Advancing Global Health in the Face of Crisis, in the Trusteeship Council Chamber

New York, NY
June 15, 2009


Mr. Secretary-General, fellow delegates and honored guests:

It is my honor to represent the United States of America and address the United Nations Secretary-General’s Forum on Protecting Global Health in the Face of Crisis. On behalf of the United States, we want the world to know that the United States is here to work with you and we are here to listen. Health ministries around the world are struggling to manage and respond effectively to the economic crisis. Tax revenues are down in many countries. Poverty and hunger have risen in some. We are working in many venues to address the causes of the current financial and economic situation, including at the IMF, the World Bank, the United Nations, the G-8, and in other relevant bodies.

President Obama understands that this is a unique moment in our history, a moment when we must unite to improve the health of all our nations, and protect the health of the most vulnerable among us. We are committed to partnering with the UN and member states to advance the cause of social justice, to expand access to health care and reduce health disparities. And we know that working together we will achieve the goals that we all share.

We recognize that the United States has an important role to play in our shared work to improve the health of our people and our nations. Together, working with partners such as the Global Fund, we have made significant improvements. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has helped save over a million lives in countries around the world.

But today alone, 26,000 children will die from poverty and preventable diseases. HIV/AIDS infection rates remain unacceptable – both in the United States and in countries across the globe – and the AIDS pandemic increasingly has a woman’s face. Diseases that we know how to treat take the lives of millions every year.

We can and must do more.

President Obama is committed to ushering in a new era in global health, an era that no longer tackles disease and illness in isolation.

Instead, our world demands a new, integrated approach to public health – one that seeks to understand and target the many factors that that can threaten the lives and livelihoods of all our citizens.

The President has announced an initiative that will seek $63 billion over six years to support a holistic approach. In addition to combating infectious diseases, this initiative will work to reduce the mortality of mothers and children and avert millions of unintended pregnancies. It also will address previously neglected tropical diseases.

And it will focus on vulnerable groups such as women and families. We know that every minute of every day, a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. This is unacceptable. The United States will help improve maternal and child health, and support a full range of family planning and reproductive health services for women.

The President’s new initiative will expand our efforts to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis and will build on what we know works.
It will also use new resources to make new smart, cost-effective investments in programs that make whole communities healthier. It will emphasize disease prevention and seek out strategies that do not battle one disease, but rather, battle the conditions that allow many diseases to thrive. And it will help to strengthen health systems so more people have access to the health care they need.

As we implement this new initiative, we will seek out your advice and expertise. We will not operate in isolation or ignore the good work that so many of your countries have done. Instead, international partnerships, cooperation and consultation will be its hallmarks.

Together, all our nations will build on the good work that is saving lives in nations around the world. We will tackle decades-old challenges that continue to plague our planet. And we will implement the new comprehensive strategy that will improve global health.

We know the United States alone cannot take on every challenge. In a world with a seemingly infinite number of challenges, we have limited resources. But President Obama will not shy away from the opportunity to lead and collaborate as we work together to protect the vulnerable and improve health.

Thank you.


PRN: 2009/128