'IVI needs financial support for medical projects in North Korea'
The Seoul Economic Daily
August 12, 2002
"Activities of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), the first international organization ever hosted by Korea, are proceeding well," said John Clemens, director of the IVI.
"That is expected to give big boost to Korea's efforts to attract regional headquarters of multinationals," Clemens stressed during an interview with the Seoul Economic Daily in his office at Seoul National University campus.
The IVI was established at the initiative of the UNDP in 1997 with the goals of preventing infectious diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever and malaria in the world. It is the first and only international organization that is headquartered in Korea.
"Infectious diseases, which disappeared in developed countries long time ago, are still afflicting many children in the developing world, which makes the roles of the IVI particularly important in the international community," Clemens said.
He pointed out as key IVI projects the Diseases of the Most Impoverished (DOMI) and studies on meningitis and Japanese encephalitis in Asian countries. "In particular, the DOMI is being carried out with a $40 million grant by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation," he explained.
Clemens showed strong interest in North Korea, which is still being plagued by typhoid fever and shigellosis. But he regretted that the IVI could not start infectious disease projects in the North because it has not been able to secure financial supports.
As to whether the IVI could join forces with multinational pharmaceutical companies for developing new vaccines to raise funds, he said, "We are ready to cooperate, but such collaboration should not become a means to help multinationals increase their profits."
He went on to say that "Korean people should be proud of the fact that part of taxes they pay are used in constructing the IVI headquarters building, and that they are paying a portion of the IVI's operational costs."
He predicted that as the IVI's research activities gain further momentum, Korea's efforts to attract regional headquarters would pick up speed as well.
By Woolsey Han