21 Nov 2003

New Zealand and France agree initiative to combat disease in the Pacific region

11:37 am on 21 November 2003

New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Phil Goff, says cooperating with France to support Public Health in the Pacific region, will go some way towards combatting communicable diseases .

Mr Goff, and the French Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Renaud Muselier, in collaboration with the Pacific Community have agreed to reinforce existing mechanisms for responding to a variety of diseases.

The Minister says the HIV expidemic in Papua New Guinea is one example, which is of major concern for the region.

": If that was to start to affect the Pacific it could have the same devestating impact that it had in Africa, which started where we are now about twenty years ago. It is really important to put the resources in there to stop those sorts of diseases affecting our neighbourhood and that is what New Zealand and France committed themselves to yesterday when they signed the document."

The cost of the three year project will be divided into equal parts with each country contributing just over 540-thousand dollars.