ppi.019-Geneva: Castro’s speech to the World Health Organization


Richard Moore

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    a public service of CADRE (Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance)
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     ppi.019-Geneva: Catro's speech to the World Health Organization

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From: "Janet M. Eaton" <•••@••.•••>
To: •••@••.•••
Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 18:02:02 +0000
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Subject:  President Castro's  speech to WHO -Geneva  May14th
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Full text of President Castro's speech given yesterday in Geneva
 May 14th at the Palace of  Nations to World Health Organization
and an article on the event  by Associated Press Writer Geir
Moulson..  je

"Who can save our species?  The blind, uncontrollable law of
the market?  Neo-liberal globalization, alone and for its own sake,
like a cancer which devours human beings and destroys nature?   That
cannot be the way forward or at least it can only last for a brief
period in history."        ---President Castro, May 14th 1998

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
From:          "NUEVO AMANECER PRESS" <•••@••.•••>
To:            "NAP-E3"<•••@••.•••>
Date:          Fri, 15 May 1998 10:35:17 +0000
Subject:       President Castro slams drug companies
Reply-to:      •••@••.•••
Cc:            "NAP-E4"<•••@••.•••>
Priority:      normal

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
From:          "Compa~ero" <•••@••.•••>
To:            •••@••.•••
Date:          Fri, 15 May 1998 08:12:37 -5
Subject:       President Castro slams drug companies
Priority:      urgent

The following is the full text of the speech delivered by Cuban
President Fidel Castro at the Palace of Nations in Geneva on the
occasion of the presentation to him of the Health for All Medal by
the World Health Organization, Thursday, May 14, 1998.

Your excellencies, officials of the WHO, distinguished delegates.

All praise to the World Health Organization, which together with
UNICEF, has helped to save the lives of hundreds of millions of
children and millions of mothers, which has relieved the suffering
and saved the lives of many more millions of human beings.

These two institutions -- together with the Food and Agriculture
Organization, the United Nations Development Program, the United
Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the World Food Program,
the United Nations Population Fund, UNESCO, and other organizations
so bitterly opposed by those who would like to erase from the face of
the earth the noble ideas which inspired the creation of the United
Nations - - have made a decisive contribution to the establishment of
a universal awareness of the serious problems of the world today and
the great challenges which we have before us.

According to the calculations of renowned economists, the world
economy grew six-fold and the production of wealth and services grew
from less than five trillion to more than twenty-nine trillion
dollars between 1950 and 1997.  Why then is it still the case that
each year, 12 million children under five years of age die -- that is
to say 33,000 per day -- of whom the overwhelming majority could be

Nowhere in the world, in no act of genocide, in no war, are so many
people killed per minute, per hour and per day as those who are
killed by hunger and poverty on our planet -- 53 years after the
creation of the United Nations.

The children who die and could be saved are almost 100% poor and of
those who survive, we must ask why 500,000 are left blind every year
for lack of a simple vitamin which costs less than a pack of
cigarettes per year?   Why are 200 million children under five years
of age undernourished?  Why are there 250 million children and
adolescents working?  Why do 110 million not attend primary school
and 275 million fail to attend secondary school?  Why do two million
girls become prostitutes each year?  Why in this world -- which
already produces almost 30 trillion dollars worth of goods and
services per year -- do one billion 300 million human beings live in
absolute poverty, receiving less than a dollar a day -- when there
are those who receive more than a million dollars a day?  Why do 800
million lack the most basic health services?   Why is it that of the
50 million people who die each year in the world, whether adults or
children, 17 million -- that is approximately 50,000 per day -- die
of infectious diseases which could almost all be cured -- or, even
better, be prevented -- at a cost which is sometimes no more than one
dollar per person?

How much is a human life worth?  What is the cost to humanity of the
unjust and intolerable order which prevails in the world?  585,000
women died during pregnancy or in childbirth in 1996, 99% of them in
the Third World, 70,000 due to abortions carried out in poor
conditions, 69,000 of them in Latin America, Africa and Asia?  Apart
from the huge differences in the quality of life between rich and
poor countries, people in rich countries live an average of 12 years
longer than people in poor countries.  And even within some nations,
the difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest is
between 20 and 35 years. It is really sad to think that just in the
area of maternal and post-natal services, in spite of the efforts of
the WHO and UNICEF over the last 50 years, the number of deaths from
lack of medical services has been 600 million children and 25 million
mothers who could have survived.  That would have required a more
rational and more just world.

In that same post-war period, in the area of military expenditure,
30 trillion dollars were spent.  According to UN estimates, the cost
of providing universal access to basic health care services would be
25 billion dollars per year -- just three percent of the 800 billion
dollars which are currently devoted to military expenditure -- and
this after the end of the Cold War.

There is no let up in arms sales, which have the sole purpose of
killing, while the medicines which should be provided to save lives
become increasingly expensive.  The market in medicines in 1995
reached 280 billion dollars.  The developed countries, with 14.6% of
the world's population -- 824 million inhabitants -- consume 82% of
the medicines. The rest of the world -- 4 billion 815 million people
-- consume only 18%.

Prices of medicines are prohibitive for the Third World, where only
the privileged sectors can afford them.  The control of patents and
markets by the large transnational companies enables them to raise
those prices as much as ten times above their production costs.  Some
of the latest antibiotics are priced at 50 times their production

And the world's population continues to grow.  We are now almost six
billion and growing at a rate of 80 million per year.  It took two
million years to reach the first billion people, a hundred years to
reach the second billion, and 11 years to reach the last billion.  In
50 years, there will be four billion new inhabitants on the planet.

Old illnesses have returned and new ones are appearing: AIDS, the
Ebola virus, Anthrax, BSE or mad cow disease -- more than thirty
according to the specialists.  Either we defeat AIDS or AIDS will
destroy many Third World countries.  No poor person can pay the
10,000 dollars per person each year that current treatments cost --
which merely prolong life without actually curing the disease.

The climate is changing.  The seas and the atmosphere are heating
up. The air and water are becoming contaminated. Soil is eroding,
deserts are growing, forests are disappearing and water is becoming
scarce.  Who can save our species?  The blind, uncontrollable law of
the market?  Neo-liberal globalization, alone and for its own sake,
like a cancer which devours human beings and destroys nature?   That
cannot be the way forward or at least it can only last for a brief
period in history.  The WHO is fighting heroically against these
realities and it also has the duty of being optimistic.

As a Cuban and a revolutionary, I share their optimism.   With a
current infant mortality rate of 7.2 per thousand live births during
the first year; a doctor for every 176 inhabitants -- which is the
highest level in the world -- and a life expectancy of more than 75
years of age, Cuba has fulfilled the WHO Health for All program for
the year 2000 since 1983 -- in spite of the cruel blockade it has
suffered for almost 40 years, in spite of being a poor, Third World
country.  The attempt to commit genocide against our country has only
made us redouble our efforts and increased our will to survive.  The
world can also fight and win.

Thank you very much.

 Castro Slams Drug Companies

By Geir Moulson
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, May 14, 1998; 10:42 a.m. EDT

GENEVA (AP) -- Cuban President Fidel Castro painted a gloomy
picture today of a developing world condemned to high death rates,
partly because major drug companies charge inflated prices for

In an impassioned speech at a session celebrating the 50th
anniversary of the U.N health agency, Castro also condemned
growing global trade liberalization and ``an economy that grows by
itself and for itself, like a cancer.''

He decried the U.S. economic embargo against his island nation,
but said the sanctions have only ``led to the multiplication of
our strengths and our will to survive.''

Castro also deplored high death and disease rates in developing
countries, and pointed to inflated drug prices by pharmaceutical
companies as the culprit.

``The control of patents and markets by the big transnational
companies allows them to raise prices over 10 times above
production costs,'' Castro said.

``Either we defeat AIDS, or AIDS will devastate several Third
World countries,'' Castro said.

The 70-year-old Cuban leader was given a standing ovation as he
entered the hall of the 191-nation World Health Assembly -- the
annual meeting of the World Health Organization.

During a weeklong visit, Castro will also address the World Trade
Organization when leaders gather to mark half a century of the
global trading system, born at a meeting in Havana, Cuba, in 1948.

The Cuban leader and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton were
staying in the same hotel today, but the hotel manager said any
clash of ideologies would be ``no problem.''

``Everyone is in their own place and it works very well,'' Herbert
Schott, director of Geneva's luxury Hotel Intercontinental, told
The Associated Press.

The hotel, which has hosted Mrs. Clinton and the U.S. president on
a previous visit to Geneva, is favored by security services for
their ability to protect it.

c Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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