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Funeral arrangements for Dr LEE Jong-wook, Director-General of the World Health Organization

The funeral of Dr LEE Jong-wook, Director-General of the World Health Organization, will take place in Geneva on Wednesday. Dr LEE died suddenly on Monday. The funeral will be held at 12:30 at the Basilique de Notre-Dame, Place Cornavin. It will be open to the public.

The Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mark Malloch Brown, will represent the Secretary-General. Other heads of UN agencies and senior officials will also be present.

Reporters are welcome to attend the funeral, which will also be attended by family, friends, and WHO staff. Dr Lee's family has requested that only one photographer take pictures during the service. WHO will therefore provide photographs on its website.

Tributes to Dr Lee

Since Dr Lee's death was announced on Monday morning, tributes have been paid by many of the people who knew him or admired his work.

The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, called Dr Lee a great man who "was at the forefront of the global fight to prevent an avian flu pandemic, and was a champion as well in the battle against a host of other public health threats from HIV/AIDS to tuberculosis … Not only was he a valuable leader to WHO staff the world over, but a cherished colleague and friend to me personally."

President George W. Bush said, "Dr. Lee worked tirelessly to improve the health of millions of people, from combating tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS to his aggressive efforts to eradicate polio. He provided tremendous leadership to the international community as it confronted the challenges of the 21st century, including the threat of an influenza pandemic. Dr. Lee's outreach to world leaders and entities increased awareness of potentially devastating public health dangers."

Mark Harrington, Executive Director of the non-governmental organization the Treatment Action Group (TAG) said: "People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) around the world should take a moment and recognize the pivotal contributions to their lives made by Dr. LEE Jong-wook. TAG expresses its solidarity with all those who are mourning the loss of this transformative leader in the world’s struggle against AIDS. Unusually among global leaders, Dr. Lee made transforming the world’s response to HIV/AIDS one of his leading priorities. Under his watch, and with his whole support, WHO … took a leading role in guiding the response to the pandemic.

Nicolás Vidal, President of the Liga Peruana Antitabáquica, who met Dr Lee during an official visit to Lima, Peru, wrote: "he was really friendly person and told us to keep the antitobacco job up to help Peruvian children. So we will keep fighting and we will do it much better! We want to say: Thank you very much dear Dr. Lee. We will remember you!"

One man wrote from Kenya to say, "Dr Jong-wook was a man of exemplary character committed to public service. I am one of the people who benefited from WHO vaccination programmes in Rift Valley, Kenya. I take this opportunity to send my condolences to the world for the loss of a dedicated servant. Dr Jong-wook is an inspiration and role model to the youth of today."

Dr Fouad Mojallid, WHO Representative in Syria, wrote: "We lost a great man and a devoted fighter for the human health rights. May he rest in peace."

Tributes can be sent to

Dr Lee's widow has requested that donations in memory of Dr Lee should be given to the project where she works, Socios En Salud in Lima, Peru.

Donations can be given via the sister organization of Socios En Salud, Partners In Health

For more information contact:

Christine McNab
Communications officer, Director-General's office
Telephone: +41 79 254 6815

Iain Simpson
Communications officer, Director-General's office
Telephone: +41 79 475 5534