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WHO chief puts poverty diseases at top of priority list

Gro Harlem Brundtland says billions are needed to combat diseases linked to poverty

(Keystone)

The head of the World Health Organisation, Gro Harlem Brundtland, has told a WHO conference in Winterthur that billions are needed to contain the spread of infectious diseases linked to poverty.

At the centre of the WHO's concerns are HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, which account for more than five million deaths annually.

The three day meeting, which ends on Friday, is aimed at fostering a worldwide movement to increase awareness of poverty and disease.

Brundtland hopes to reduce mortality rates in third-world countries by half within the next five years. She estimated it would cost close to $6 billion to achieve this.

She said $2.5 billion is needed for AIDS prevention campaigns, and a further $3 billion to fight malaria and tuberculosis.

The conference brings together 200 experts from 70 different countries. It is a follow up of the G8 meeting, which took place in Okinawa last July.

swissinfo with agencies


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