Opening remarks by Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Meeting of the Western Pacific Regional Programme Review Group on Lymphatic Filariasis and other Neglected Tropical Diseases

Manila, Philippines
19 July 2013

Distinguished Members of the Regional Programme Review Group,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

First, I would like to thank the Programme Review Group for their contribution to the programme managers’ meeting this week.

Your expertise and experience gave us all a better understanding of the state of neglected tropical diseases in the Region.

Going forward, programme managers will use this fresh understanding and strong regional solidarity to make their efforts even more effective.

This is a critical step as we work to turn know-how into workable and sustainable plans to achieve our global and regional road map goals for 2020.

That journey starts today with four objectives for the review group:

First, we must review country requests for drug donations.

Second, we must analyse the key tasks to achieve the 2020 NTD elimination and control goals in the Region.

Third, we must devise concrete steps to address these challenges, including scaling up interventions and sustainability concerns.

And finally, we must provide specific guidance for each endemic country to accelerate activities and progress on NTDs.

This week you have already heard much on NTDs from me and many others.

Still, I would like to highlight WHO's appreciation of the review group’s role in the commendable progress towards eliminating lymphatic filariasis in the Western Pacific Region.

The programme review group was originally composed of two groups — one for the Mekong area and the other for Pacific island countries.

In 2011, the two groups merged. Their role expanded to include not only lymphatic filariasis, but also other key NTDs.

To complement the group's capacities, experts on trachoma and advocacy were added since last year.

This group now consists of world-renowned experts on NTDs, vector control and advocacy, as well as representatives from national programmes.

Among all the many bodies that assist WHO, the Regional Programme Review Group has emerged as one of the most skillful and insightful.

The group has worked tirelessly — and on a voluntary basis — to help craft our plans to master NTDs at long last.

We are, indeed, in their debt.

We are grateful for all those who have come together in such a concerted manner to tackle NTDs.

To the companies that have made drug donations, I would like to express special gratitude. We would never have made the progress we have without your generosity.

The hard work and support from all our partners has been critical.

You have allowed us to devote more resources and more expertise than ever before to fight NTDs in the Region.

At WHO, we know that no single organization can handle such a huge undertaking.

Our strength comes from the collective commitment of our partners — and our Member States — to vanquish NTDs.

Finally, I would like to personally thank Professor Dato CP Ramachandran for his excellent service as the chairman of the Regional Programme Review Group for the past 13 years.

He has agreed to extend his tenure one more year — proving once again what I’ve always said: good work always begets more work.

And in this case, more appreciation…

Again, I would like to thank everyone on behalf of WHO for their hard work.

I wish you all a safe journey home.