Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Founding Chairman, Al Habtoor Group, welcomed His Excellency Philippe Douste-Blazy at his office on Thursday 5 April 2018. HE Douste-Blazy has held several ministerial positions in his native France, including Minister of Health (1993-1995), Minister of Culture and Communication (1995-1997), Minister for Solidarity, Health and Family (2004-2005) and Minister of Foreign Affairs (2005-2007). He is currently the United Nations Secretary-General on Innovative Finance for Development, with the rank of Under-Secretary-General. Douste-Blazy is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on innovative financing to reach the Millennium Development Goals. Prior to embracing policy initiatives, he was a practicing cardiologist and Professor of Public Health at Toulouse University in France.
His Excellency informed Khalaf Al Habtoor about the issue of Chronic Malnutrition globally, and said action was required at conception onwards to ensure the disease does not develop. He discussed the long-term consequences of Chronic Malnutrition on the economy. “Children with this disease cannot function properly at school which means they will not be able to contribute as they should to the economy when they are adults... Chronic Malnutrition impacts the neurons of the brain and reduces the ability to learn.”
He said that investment in the disease is imperative to ensure that every child gets a chance to succeed. He highlighted the importance of education. “If pregnant women take supplements containing B1 and B12 this will help us win the battle.” He added that Chronic Malnutrition in the world can be reduced significantly at the small cost of just $34 per child per year. He said the disease is a global problem which is more prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia.
Al Habtoor said he supports the initiative, adding that he believes the overarching issue is global poverty. “If you alleviate world poverty then this issue will go away,” he said. “Poverty is the biggest threat to the world today. Without money you cannot put nutritious food on the table or provide for your family’s basic needs. This leads to a multitude of problems from health issue to terrorism. If we tackle poverty then we tackle a lot more of the world’s troubles.”
Previously, His Excellency Douste-Blazy Chaired UNITAID for 10 years where he was credited for his ground-breaking contributions. UNITAID raised significant funds from a EUR 1 levy on air tickets in France and 11 other countries, virtually invisible to consumers to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria among the world’s most vulnerable populations under the auspices of the UN.
Al Habtoor praised Douste-Blazy for the innovative idea of helping eradicate global health issues through small transactions. He shared details of his Global Alleviation Plan which encourages the three monolithic faiths to contribute to fighting poverty.