Remarks by Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, For the Launch of the Emergency Response to Artemisinin Resistance in the Greater Mekong Subregion

25 April 2013, Hotel Intercontinental, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Your Imperial and Royal Highness, Honourable Minister of Health of Cambodia, Colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen:

First and foremost, I would like to personally thank you for your support and valued contributions.

Partnership and solidarity like yours continue to be our greatest resource for overcoming health challenges globally.

We are here today to launch WHO’s framework to combat malaria — "Emergency Response to Artemisinin Resistance in the Greater Mekong Subregion".

Those of us in the health sector like to think we are close to beating malaria.

But the truth is that malaria will beat us all, unless we do more than we are doing now, and we do it better.

Most importantly, we must learn to pool our skills.

This means a lot more than meetings. It means coordination of all the organizations and partners working in fields related to malaria control.

At this critical point in the fight against malaria, there is no room for competing agendas or go-it-alone efforts.

Our approach must start with solid commitments and coordination from sectors outside of health. This will require support at the very highest level of government, to bring together all the parties that deal with complex issues — such as how to treat migrants and other hard-to-reach populations.

This coordination will be especially key in addressing artemisinin resistance. Our response must be truly regional with no gaps in coverage.

We must bring together not only the governments of the Greater Mekong Subregion and beyond, but also the expertise and support of regional organizations such as ASEAN.

In his opening comments, Dr Ehrenberg rightfully highlighted some serious risks.

The fact is that failure to contain resistance to artemisinin in this part of the world may have tragic consequences globally.

Make no mistake. The world is watching — and we cannot afford to fail.

So how will we succeed?

I am encouraged by the vision of Dr Mam Bun Heng. From the consultation earlier today with government representatives, he brings a message of commitment and cooperation.

This is precisely what is needed.

Of course, significant financial resources will also be necessary to do the job.

Thankfully, our partner development agencies have generously backed our approach.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, AusAID, USAID, DIFID and the Global Fund already help. And the Global Fund has committed another 100 million dollars to the cause.

Indeed, we are extremely grateful to all of our partners for their financial and technical support.

The framework we are launching today will provide high-quality strategic assistance to make sure we beat artemisinin resistance.

This is critical not only for the six countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion, but also to the entire Western Pacific Region.

The framework highlights key areas where action is urgently needed to contain resistance and to move towards eliminating resistant parasites.

In general, the framework focuses on the need for urgent and intensified efforts and better-quality implementation of existing strategies.

In addition to the framework, today WHO is launching a regional hub here in Phnom Penh to provide coordination and technical support for the intensified containment efforts.

We thank the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and AusAID especially for their support of this initiative.

At this point, we are all stakeholders in the fight against malaria and artemisinin resistance.

I urge you to take this framework with you and see how you can help to implement it at home.

The challenges are tall.

The risks are high.

The time for concerted action is now.

To that end, it is my pleasure to formally launch the framework and regional hub.

Thank you.