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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                          (New York, New York)
For Immediate Release                                 September 21, 1999


International Health Initiatives

Today, during his address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Clinton announced a number of new and on-going health initiatives designed to attack diseases that contribute to poverty and prevent economic development worldwide.

A White House Vaccine Conference. HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria alone kill over 5 million people each year -- mostly in developing countries. Effective vaccines will be the best public health solution for all three of these diseases. However, research and development for diseases of developing countries is underfunded. Only 2 percent of global health research and development funding is devoted to AIDS, malaria, acute lung infections, diarrheal diseases and TB B the infectious killers of the developing world.

President Clinton announced today his intention to host a conference on vaccine development that would call together pharmaceutical company CEOs, scientists, foundation heads, members of Congress, academic experts and other interested parties to hear their concerns and ideas. Together, this group will develop workable economic and technical solutions to promote private sector investment and new public/private partnerships to develop vaccines for TB, HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases of the developing world.

Polio Eradication. For only the second time in history, we are on the verge of completely eradicating an infectious disease B poliomyelitis. Polio, which once killed or crippled over 600,000 persons per year has been reduced to about 5,000 cases annually through an aggressive worldwide immunization campaign. The World Health Organization has resolved to eradicate polio by the year 2000.

Under the leadership of the UN, a broad partnership of governments, foundations, and private voluntary organizations such as Rotary International, has already eradicated the disease in the Western Hemisphere, Western Europe, and much of Asia and the Western Pacific. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia contain the only remaining pockets of the disease.

The United States has already contributed over $300 million to the polio eradication effort since 1995, and the President has substantially increased our commitment to $108 million in his Fiscal Year 2000 request to Congress. We will engage other nations to join in accelerating our efforts to finally eradicate this scourge.

A Comprehensive Battle Against the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic. Over the next decade, AIDS will kill more people in Sub-Saharan Africa than the total number killed in all of the wars of the 20th century combined. The UN has called the AIDS epidemic the worst infectious disease catastrophe since the bubonic plague.

The Clinton Administration is seeking to add $100 million to our international efforts to combat this scourge. The initiative will be targeted to Africa and other parts of the world where the epidemic is growing.

In addition to the new budget request, the Administration is also engaging other partners to address the crisis, including a meeting of national leaders, chaired by the First Lady on September 7, 1999; a UN conference on children orphaned by AIDS; and meetings with the business, religious, and labor communities.

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