Mrs. Nane Annan, the wife of Mr. Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, visited the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) on May 15 during the couple´s three-day visit to the Republic of Korea. The IVI is a Seoul-based independent international organization created as an initiative of the UN.
Mrs. Annan took a tour of the IVI headquarters building and its state-of-the-art laboratories, donated by the Korean government, after being briefed on the Institute by IVI Deputy Director General, Dr. Luis Jodar. During the hour-long visit, she also addressed participants of IVI´s annual International Advanced Course on Vaccinology for the Asia-Pacific Regions, a week-long training program attended by about 90 experts from 28 countries.
In her remarks at the IVI, Mrs. Annan, who has keen interest in the welfare of women and children, and in HIV/AIDS, stressed the importance of vaccines to children´s health, and lauded IVI´s contribution to the UN´s mission. "The death of a child is tragic and is closely linked to poverty" she said, adding "Millions of children die mostly in developing countries."
Noting that at least four UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are directly related to IVI´s work, Mrs. Annan said, "IVI is playing an important role in fulfilling those goals." The eight MDGs constitute an ambitious agenda to significantly improve the human condition by 2015, and the four Goals include: ´eradicating extreme poverty and hunger,´ ´reducing child mortality,´ ´combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases,´ and ´developing a global partnership for development.´
"By visiting the IVI headquarters in person, Mrs. Annan has underscored the importance of IVI´s mission in attaining the MDGs," said Dr. Jodar, who received Mrs. Annan on behalf of IVI Director General, Dr. John Clemens. "The IVI is committed to fighting diseases for the world´s poor through the development and accelerated deployment of vaccines."
The IVI is the world´s only international organization devoted exclusively to research and development of new vaccines for the poorest children in developing countries. Established in 1997 as a seed project of the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), the Institute is governed by a Board of Trustees, of which three of its 21 seats are filled by UN agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNDP. With 37 countries and WHO as Signatories to its charter, the IVI also is the first international organization to be hosted by Korea.
As the host country, Korea has provided the IVI with a new headquarters building, and contributes a significant portion of its annual operating budget. The IVI new headquarters complex, which was inaugurated by President Roh Moo-hyun in 2004, is believed to be worth at least $140 million.
The Institute is funded by several other governments, and international donors, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as individuals and corporations. In Korea, it also is supported by the Korea Support Committee for IVI, made up of about 60 preeminent Korean citizens, including the First Lady Madame Kwon Yang-suk, who serves as the Honorary President.
Welcoming Mrs. Annan, Prof. Cho Wan-kyoo, former chairman of the KSC and one of founding fathers of the IVI, urged a broader international support for the Institute. "We hope to see more countries joining the IVI charter, and additional donors pooling resources to ensure the success of IVI´s humanitarian efforts."
Remarks by Mrs. Nane Annan
Visit to International Vaccine Institute
Thank you for your warm welcome. A special thanks to Professor Cho for your words reflecting your deep commitment to the Institute and your role as a founding father, and also to Dr. Jodar for so succinctly giving me an overview of the Institute¡?s activities.
It is a great pleasure to be visiting with you today and to learn about the important work you are doing. I am very excited to be here in your state-of-the-art headquarters and to be able to meet some of your staff who come from many different countries to join forces with your Korean colleagues.
In the year 2000, world leaders met at the United Nations and agreed on a set of eight Millennium Development Goals. At least four of them are directly related to your work: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; reducing child mortality; and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; as well as the eighth goal to ¡®Develop a global partnership for development¡?.
The death of a child is tragic and is closely linked to poverty. Every year millions of children die, most of them in developing countries and most of them from diseases that could be prevented or treated.
It is against this backdrop that I am so pleased to learn that you are devoted to bringing new vaccines to the populations of the developing world. As we learned from Dr. Jodar, you are focusing on closing the gap of knowledge about vaccines, working on making them affordable as well as developing new vaccines.
Many of the diseases you focus on are those that we think of as we travel in developing countries so we know what it would mean for those living there to feel safer thanks to a vaccine, especially knowing the scant resources for care and treatment available.
As your chairman says, vaccination is widely recognized as one of the most cost-effective tools of public health policy as well as vital for humanitarian, economic and social reasons.
I well remember how the message of protecting children through vaccination was ingrained in me as a young mother. Shouldn¡?t we ensure that children growing up in far more precarious situations have the possibility of all the protection we can give?
We have to make an all-out effort to ensure that all the children of the world survive. Your institute is playing an important role in fulfilling those Development Goals.
So I wish you all success in your important work, with a warm thanks to all those who support you and may I mention here especially the Korea Support Committee for IVI and its Honorary President, the Honorable Madame Kwon Yang-Suk.
Once again, thank you for receiving me so warmly.
Gam Sa Ham Ni Da (Thank you!).
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