UNSG Ban: more investment in women’s and children’s health

New UN Special Envoy announced for HIV/AIDS Asia Pacific region

28 April 2012 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on India to lead the way in improving health services for women and children and appointed a new Special Envoy for HIV\AIDS in the Asia Pacific region from India—Professor Prasada Rao.

"Around the world, some eight million women and children die from preventable causes each year. Almost two million of them are Indian," Mr. Ban said in his remarks at a reception in support of the Every Woman Every Child initiative held in the city of Mumbai. "I am deeply disturbed by these numbers. But I am also fully convinced that we can drive them down." The Every Woman Every Child initiative is a global effort that was launched in 2010 to mobilize and intensify global action to save the lives of 16 million women and children and improve the lives of millions more.

New Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS Asia Pacific region

Mr. Ban was joined at the reception by four other senior UN officials: the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Margaret Chan, the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Babatunde Osotimehin, Michel Sidibé, the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and Geeta Rao Gupta, the Deputy Executive Director from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

At the reception, Mr. Ban also announced the appointment of Prasada Rao as his new Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Asia Pacific region. Mr Rao began his engagement with HIV issues when he became Director of India’s National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in 1997 and later he became India’s Secretary for Health and Family Welfare. Since 2010, he has been a Trustee at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.

Mr. Ban told members of the business and creative communities present at the reception that their participation was crucial to address this issue, and praised efforts already in place such as the Business Leaders Council whose aim is to help India achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the anti-poverty and social development targets that have an achievement deadline of 2015, which include improving women and children's health. "Too many pregnant women in India have no health services. Too many others have to walk for scores of kilometres just to reach a clinic, and even then, too many mothers and their newborns do not survive. That is why we need to care for every woman and every child." Mr. Ban said.

UNAIDS press release: Prasada Rao appointed as UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for AIDS in Asia and the Pacific

GENEVA, 1 May 2012—United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has appointed J.V.R. Prasada Rao as his Special Envoy for AIDS in the Asia-Pacific region. Mr Rao will take over the position in July this year from Dr Nafis Sadik who served in the role since 2002. “Mr Rao has demonstrated his strong leadership of the AIDS response for 14 years,” said Mr Ban. “I am confident that as my Special Envoy he will help to achieve an HIV-free generation in the region.”

Mr Rao began his engagement with HIV issues when he became Director of India’s National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in 1997. During his time with NACO he successfully made India’s response to the epidemic truly multi-sectoral by engaging a broad range of international partners. Later he became India’s Secretary for Health and Family Welfare, where he played an instrumental role in drafting India’s AIDS Prevention and Control Policy. His experience and contribution to the AIDS response led him to being appointed as the Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS’ (UNAIDS) Regional Support Team in Asia-Pacific and subsequently as Special Advisor to the Executive Director of UNAIDS.

Mr Rao served as Member Secretary of two independent commissions on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific. He is currently also a Commissioner of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law. “Prasada is an excellent and experienced champion for the AIDS response,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “He has an expert understanding of the dynamics of the epidemics in the region and we look forward to working with him in his new role and combining our efforts to end AIDS in Asia and the Pacific.”

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