New WHO Director Makes Combating HIV/AIDS Major Priority for Organization
Dr. Jong-Wook Lee, the newly elected director general of the World Health Organization, said that he would make combating HIV/AIDS in the developing world a major priority, the Boston Globe reports. Lee said that he would fulfill the WHO's promise to provide three million HIV-positive people in resource-poor countries with antiretroviral drugs by 2005, according to the Globe. Currently, fewer than 300,000 HIV-positive individuals receive treatment in developing countries (Donnelly, Boston Globe, 5/22). Prevention efforts must also intensify along with the distribution of antiretrovirals, Lee said, adding, "We will use the delivery of HIV/AIDS services as a way to build up health systems." Lee also stressed that WHO will work to increase community involvement in prevention, care and treatment (Lee speech text, 5/21). Jonathon Simon, director of Boston University's Center for International Health, said that WHO "cannot be the global leader unless it has a much more coherent and effective policy on AIDS," according to the Globe. Lee said that WHO officials will work more closely with national health authorities, be more focused and work "closer to the ground," according to the Globe. As one of his first acts as director general, Lee appointed Paulo Teixeira, head of Brazil's HIV/AIDS program, to formulate WHO's AIDS strategy. Brazil was the first developing country to implement a national HIV/AIDS plan, according to the Globe. Lee said that the "conflict, poverty and widespread sickness" that he experienced growing up in South Korea will help him to "stress the health needs of the disadvantaged," the Globe reports (Boston Globe, 5/22). Lee is the former head of WHO's Stop Tuberculosis campaign, according to BBC News (Lichtarowicz, BBC News, 5/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.