Remarks by Mr. Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General, United Nations Office Geneva

by Allison Wilbur on September 17, 2009

Opening remarks by
Mr. Sergei A. Ordzhonikidze
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva

Making a Healthier World for Our Children
An exhibition of American Quilts organized by the
Permanent Mission of the United States of America in support of the
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Palais des Nations, Geneva
Thursday, 12 November 2009

Mr. Griffiths
Dr. Kazatchkine

Mr. Sergei A. Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva Speaks at the Openign of the Quilt Challenge Exhibit - Photo by Eric Bridiers

Mr. Sergei A. Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva Speaks at the Opening of the Quilt Challenge Exhibit. (Photo by Eric Bridiers, U.S. Mission)

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is indeed a pleasure to welcome you all to the Palais des Nations for this most timely call to improve the health of the world’s children. Let me, first of all, thank the Permanent Mission of the United States for highlighting this key challenge on the United Nations’ agenda.

I should also like to extend my sincere appreciation to the quilters who through their work have spoken on behalf of some of the world’s voiceless. Their participationrefle cts a strong, shared dedication to improving child health, which is indispensable if we are to make further progress. As it says on one of the quilts: “A healthier world begins at home”. To me, that sums it up: ensuring the health of the world’s children is our joint responsibility, and each one of us can help to make a difference.

As this exhibition demonstrates, we have made considerable advances. The innovate partnerships of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have been instrumental in driving this progress. More is needed. Nearly 10 million children under the age of five die every year – that is more than 1,000 an hour. One 1 million of these deaths are caused by malaria. Yet, most could survive and thrive with access to simple, affordable interventions. Worldwide some 20 million children under the age of five are severely malnourished, leaving them more vulnerable to illness and early death.
15 million children have already lost one or both their parents to HIV/AIDS. These statistics are simply a stain on our collective conscience.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
Health is fundamental to everything we do at the United Nations. A healthier world is a safer and a more just world. In a week’s time – on 19 and 20 November – we mark Universal Children’s Day and the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

That will be an occasion also to remind of the need to scale up efforts to protect our children’s health if we are realize the Millennium Development Goals and make our vision of a better world for all a reality. There is a need for more resources, used more effectively, and with a commitment to equity. The experience and achievements of the Global Fund can help to guide and encourage these efforts.

These quilts are a most powerful reminder that behind the staggering figures lies the suffering of individual girls and boys – children who are robbed of their childhood, the hope of a future and their rightful place in our human family. And we, in turn, are deprived of their unique contributions to our common good. We owe it to each one of them and to ourselves to make their health our priority. It is the only way to fulfill our obligations to succeeding generations. Let the creativity, commitment and compassion that we see illustrated here inspire us.
Thank you very much.

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