15 April 2007

Amazing how that outgoing team found fictitious jobs. Amazing how the incoming team follows through without question!

What is the Secretary General's Special Envoy to Stop Tuberculosis supposed to do? Can he stop the epidemic, like a policeman stopping a car in a traffic jam? Would he supervise movement in New York subways? Does he possess special powers that doctors around the world don't have? Has he taken over single-handedly the task of the World Health Organization? Who is Mr. Jorge Sampaio anyway and what did he do to combat the rising level of new 8.8 million, repeat MILLION, infections a year? We, of course, know of a very distinguished politician with the same name who once was President of Portugal. Is it one and the same person? If so, we would have to find out what precise action of relevance he did undertake at that time. And why would a former President of a prominent European country (and culture) like Portugal wish to acquire such a fictitous title? While the varied forms of drug resistant TB sicknesses grow, is it appropriate for U.N. headquarters to feel satisfied by merely issuing a statement and pointing to the presence of Senor Sampaio?

WHO Director General Margaret Chan issued an impressive report around World TB Day followed up with action required in her field. Peter Piot, the famed U.N. AIDS expert warned that the "emergence of still more complex multi-drug resistant TB was a serious threat to the global response to AIDS."

There are clear needs to be met; an obvious danger to be confronted. Greater funds are sought. There is urgent need to update existing technologies and to intensify research into new vaccines and treatments. Closer contact with pharmaceutical companies, possibly more pressure on them, will have to be undertaken.

No one would question a practical and effective involvement by the U.N. Secretariat in combating a lethal illness like Tuberculosis. To the contrary, its role will be not only welcome but will lift its reputation while demonstrating its care for everyday concern for everyday people. But having a "Special Representative of the Secretary General to Stop Tuberculosis" is a black joke. Get serious.