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UNDP Administrator urges businesses to join battle against AIDS

UNDP Administrator urges businesses to join battle against AIDS

The Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today urged business leaders meeting in France to support the global battle against AIDS through donations, advocacy and action.

Addressing the French-American Chamber of Commerce in Versailles, Mark Malloch Brown underscored the epidemic's harmful effects on business. "AIDS threatens your workforces, your future markets and global stability generally," he said, adding that it was in everyone's interest to combat the disease by helping to build "the kind of strong, transparent institutions, services and rule of law that benefit everyone from the poorest African peasant to the wealthiest global CEO."

While acknowledging the contribution of local projects, Mr. Malloch Brown stressed that "the real way forward for corporate social responsibility is broader public-private partnerships." He called on private companies to use their own communications sectors to spread the anti-AIDS message. "Such statements not only help break the silence and stigma that is still all too often associated with the disease, but build positive brand-name rewards," he said.

The Administrator also urged the private sector to take direct action by supporting and educating employees, particularly in developing countries. He noted that although the cost of treatment has been dramatically reduced, the public sector in most countries would still be unable to afford broad interventions against AIDS. "And that leaves the private sector as the real new frontier where we have the best chance of expanding access to treatment, particularly given the fact that it is now much more cost-effective to treat workers than to find and train new ones," he said.

In addition, Mr. Malloch Brown called on those present to contribute to the global fund to tackle HIV/AIDS and other diseases that has been promoted by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. "With your support, we have every chance of mounting a coherent, effective response to the world's most deadly challenge that paves the way for other public-private coalitions of mutual interest to tackle other pressing global problems," he said.