Remarks by the President at the Vaccine Event, Mahavir Trust Hospital


Office of the Press Secretary
(Hyderabad, India)

For Immediate ReleaseMarch 24, 2000


Mahavir Trust Hospital
Hyderabad, India

11:30 A.M. (L)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Good morning, Chief MinisterNaidu. Thank you for welcoming me today to your state and to thismagnificent city. Dr. Aruna, thank you for your remarks and for your work.Dr. Kolluri, to Ms. Rachel Chatterjee, the Minister of Health and the otherministers of the government that are here. To the staff of the MahavirTrust Hospital. I thank you all for your dedication and for making me andour American delegation so welcome.

I am honored to be joined today by my daughter, by the AmericanAmbassador to India, Mr. Celeste, and his wife, Jacqueline Lundquist; bythe Secretary of Commerce Bill Daley, and the Administrator of our Agencyfor International Development Brady Anderson; and by six distinguishedmembers of our Congress -- Congressman Gary Ackerman and RepresentativeNita Lowey from New York; Congressman Jim McDermott from Washington;Congressman Ed Royce from California; Congressman Sheila Jackson Lee fromTexas; and Representative Jan Schakowsky from Illinois. We are delightedto be here and we are very interested in what you are doing and impressed.And we thank you. (Applause.)

We come today to celebrate a success story and to join with you inmeeting a new challenge. As Dr. Aruna said, the success story is thevirtual complete eradication of polio from the face of the Earth. In 1987,India reported 27,000 cases of this crippling disease. Today only 1,000Indians are afflicted, and as you have just heard, there are no reportednew cases this year.

India has collaborated in this effort with Rotary International, withthe Gates Foundation, with UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and withthe U.S. Agency for International Development, or AID.

I would like to say just a special word of appreciation to our Agencyfor International Development. It has meant a great deal to America'spartnership on a very human level with people all across the world andespecially here in India. It has guided our efforts to fight diseases thatthreaten children; to launch the Green Revolution that helped India achieveself-sufficiency in agriculture and even more; to provide education, sothat parents in India and throughout the world can determine the size oftheir families and keep their children in school; and to support greatIndian universities, like IIT.

Now, we believe that USAID will be just as critical and just as activeas India and the United States embark on a dynamic new partnership, as weface new challenges, like developing the sources of clean energy, bringingthe Internet to rural India so all its children can reach out to the world.

So I'd like to say a special word of thanks today to our AIDAdministrator, Brady Anderson, and B.A. Rudolph and the other members ofthe AID team who are here. They are devoted to the cause of India and Ithank them for their work. (Applause.)

I would also like to acknowledge, though, that on this polioeradication effort, the vast majority of the funding division and the workhas come from India. And the whole world admires greatly what you haveachieved.

Now, for the challenge. Today is World Tuberculosis Day. It marksthe day the bacteria which causes TB was discovered 118 years ago. And,yet, even though this is 118-year-old knowledge, in the year 2000, TB killsmore people around the world than ever before, including one almost everyminute here in India.

Malaria is also on the rise here and in Southeast Asia and in Africa.And while the AIDS infection rate here is still relatively low, Indiaalready has more people infected than any other nation in the world. Theseare human tragedies, economic calamities, and far more than crises for you,they are crises for the world.

The spread of disease is the one global problem for which, bydefinition, no nation is immune. So we must do for AIDS, for malaria, forTB what you have done for polio. We must strengthen prevention, speedresearch, develop vaccines and ultimately eliminate these modern plaguesfrom the face of the Earth. It can be done -- you have proved it withpolio -- if governments, foundations and the private sector work together.

With AIDS in particular, it also takes leadership. I want to commendPrime Minister Vajpayee for his efforts to focus India's attention on theurgency of this challenge. In every country and in any culture it isdifficult to talk about the issues involved with AIDS. I know a lot aboutthis because it's been a problem for a long time in America, and now it's abig problem for you. But I would submit to you it is much easier to talkabout AIDS than to watch another child die. And we have to face up to ourresponsibilities for preventing this disease, especially because there isnot yet a cure.

I am gratified that India is not waiting to act and I am proud thatthe United States is supporting your efforts here. I am happy to announcethat we will contribute another $4 million this year to programs to preventAIDS and care for victims here in India, and another $1 million for TBresearch. I also want to thank -- (applause) -- I want to thank the GatesFoundation and, in particular, Patty Stonesifer, because they are alsoannouncing a number of new contributions today. No private foundation inAmerica and, as far as I know, anywhere in the world has made remotely thecommitment that the Gates Foundation has in the world struggle againstinfectious disease, and I thank them for that. (Applause.)

Earlier this year, I asked Congress to support a $1-billion initiativeto encourage the private sector to speed the development of vaccines fordiseases that particularly affect the developing world -- malaria, TB andAIDS -- and then to take steps to make those vaccines affordable to thepoorest people in the world who need them. I am going to work hard toobtain support for that initiative in Congress. And again, I thank themembers of our Congress who are here from both parties for their interestand commitment to India and to the public health.

The fight against infectious disease should be a growing part of ourpartnership with you. Indians already are trailblazers in vaccineresearch. India pioneered treatments for TB being used today in America.Many of the problems we have talked about are present here in India, butthe solutions can be found here, as well -- in the dedication of men andwomen like those who work in this clinic, and in the genius of yourscientists, and in the elected officials and their commitment -- fromDelhi, to Hyderabad, to countless towns and villages across this country.

Many years ago, India and the United States helped to launch the GreenRevolution, which freed millions of people from the misery of hunger. Ifwe can join forces on health, determined again to place science and theservice of humanity, we can defeat these diseases; we can give our childrenthe healthy and hopeful lives they deserve in this new century.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)  


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