It is my great pleasure to welcome Emeritus Chairman of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) Mr. Tommy Thompson, Executive Director of the Global Fund, Professor Richard Feachem and President of the Friends of the Global Fund Japan Mr. Yoshiro Mori, and ladies and gentlemen who have traveled to Tokyo for this Commemorative Symposium on the Fifth Anniversary of the conception of the Global Fund at the Kyushu/Okinawa G8 Summit.
In the history of humanity, infectious diseases have on many occasions brought about tremendous catastrophes. And today, again, the fight against infectious diseases is in one of the most urgent and formidable challenges that confront humanity. As globalization brings about an expansion in cross-border interactions, the threat of infectious diseases is increasing year by year.
The three deadliest infectious diseases, namely HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, are an especially devastating threat to humanity that claims approximately six million lives every year. The annual death toll from HIV/AIDS in Asia amounts to 500,000, and some estimate that 50 million people in Asia will be infected with HIV virus by 2010. Infectious diseases are also a subject of great interest amongst the participants of the Group of Eight (G8) Gleneagles Summit, which I will be attending in a week.
Governments, corporations and civil society are starting to join hands across national borders to respond to infectious diseases in a timely manner to protect the valuable lives and health of peoples. The honorable ladies and gentlemen gathered here today have all made outstanding contributions to, and are playing leading roles in, the fight against infectious diseases in their respective countries and fields of activities. Your sincere dedication and efforts show us the right path to proceed and give us courage. It was the cooperation of the international community that led to the success of suppressing the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic when it swept through East Asia two years ago. We must continue and strengthen such cooperation.
At the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit in 2000, then-Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, as the Chair of
the Summit, stressed the importance of the fight against infectious diseases. Following this, theG8 responded with an initiative that led to the creation of the Global Fund.
It is most gratifying that the Global Fund has been making a steady flow of achievements, approving as many as 300 projects in nearly 130 countries amounting to over US$3 billion within the three and a half years since its establishment. We are determined to build solidarity with people around the world who suffer from HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and we are determined to support the fight to roll back the three diseases. Therefore, today, I would like to announce that the Government of Japan has decided to increase its contribution to the Global Fund and will contribute half a billion, namely 500 million US dollars in the coming years.
Health is a prerequisite to happiness and self-fulfillment. Japan has for some time been advocating the concept of "human security" as one of important pillars of its diplomacy. Based on this idea, my government has put forward a new Official Development Assistance (ODA) policy concerning "Health and Development", and I announced two days ago that we would provide comprehensive assistance amounting to US $5 billion over the next five years starting from this year.
The great French bacteriologist Louis Pasteur, who established preventive medicine through immunology and vaccination, once stated, "Fortune smiles upon those who are prepared." It is indeed a maxim. But we will work so that fortune smiles also on those who are yet unable to prepare by themselves. To that end, Japan is determined to carry out its international cooperation to reduce poverty and protect the health of the people in developing countries. Every five seconds a life is taken away by the three killer infectious diseases. This situation absolutely cannot be tolerated. The international community must unite and join forces in the fight against these diseases so that every individual in the world can live in good health and with dignity.
In concluding my remarks, I wish to express my sincere hope that this Symposium will serve as an opportunity to expand and strengthen the circle for the fight against infectious diseases in East Asia.
Thank you for your kind attention.