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Last Updated: Monday, 21 July, 2003, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
WHO boss makes Aids pledge
Jong-wook Lee
Dr Lee has made HIV his top priority
The new director-general of the World Health Organisation says he will provide three million HIV and Aids patients in poor countries with key anti-retroviral drugs within two years.

On his first day in office Dr Jong-wook Lee, a tuberculosis expert from South Korea, stressed that tackling the HIV pandemic must be the WHO's top priority.

He said that supplying the latest anti-retroviral drugs for HIV positive people in Africa was a realistic goal.

Currently even generic versions are well beyond the means of most Africans.

Dr Lee has appointed a senior adviser to the US Secretary of State Colin Powell as the new WHO Aids chief.

Dr Jack Chow will head a newly created department designed to fine-tune WHO's battle against Aids.

It will be brought into a new cluster together with tuberculosis and malaria.

Dr Lee also said a new global Aids plan would be announced on World Aids Day in December.

This would place renewed on treatment, prevention and care of those living with HIV.

Last year alone, 3 million died worldwide from Aids, and 5 million were newly infected with HIV, according to the United Nations Program on HIV/Aids. About 42 million are living with the virus.

Other priorities

Dr Lee also promised to tackle the widespread human resources crisis in the health sector.

Improved training will be made available for health workers, and more people around the world will be coached in how to administer basic medical care.

Another priority will be to improve the system for notification and monitoring of infectious diseases, such as Sars.

In his inaugural address to WHO staff, Dr Lee said: "Our work together in the coming years will be guided by three principles.

"We must do the right things. We must do them in the right places. And we must do them the right way,"

Dr Lee is the former head of the agency's "Stop Tuberculosis" campaign.

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