Her Response in the Cultural Center of the Philippines

31 August 2009, Cultural Center of the Philippines
It is truly an honour for me to receive the 2009 Ramon Magsaysay Award, an award that honours the legacy of a distinguished statesman and signifies transforming contribution to human development in Asia.  

{xtypo_quote_right}My journey as a pharmacist in pursuit of increasing access to medicines to those underprivileged and often disadvantaged people in the developing nations has been a long journey.   That journey is filled with adventures, formidable challenges and achievements, disappointments and rewards, sadness and joy, both in my homeland Thailand and in many African countries that I’ve visited and worked. {/xtypo_quote_right}

I was motivated by a sense of fairness and a view of AIDS as a social as well as a health problem.  I think everybody should get access to treatment. It is a basic human right.  The development and manufacture of medicines must be aimed at improving public health and well-being of the people, thereby contributing to economic growth and prosperity. My life is dedicated to bringing about local pharmaceutical production by formulating and manufacturing affordable generic drugs to treat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other maladies to improve people’s heath.   

Between 1983 and 2002 when I worked for Thailand’s Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO), GPO manufactured over one hundred new kinds of drugs that had never been produced before in Thailand.  In 1995 Thailand became the first developing country to make available AZT capsule and in 2001 a fixed-dose generic combination drug of stavudine, lamivudine and nevirapine or known as GPO-VIR against HIV/AIDS. As a result of this cost-reduction and high-quality drug as well as Thai civil society’s tireless advocacy for its broader availability, the Thai government has established a policy of universal coverage for antiretroviral treatment for 150,000 patients infected by HIV/AIDS to date.   

For the past 7 years, I’ve worked in 15 African countries, 14 of which are Least Developed Countries (LDCs), spreading from West to East Africa teaching the local people to manufacture generic antimalarial and antiretroviral drugs. I believe that teaching people how to fish is better than giving them fish.  It is important to break the cycle of health dependency of lesser developed countries on the wealthier countries and multinational pharmaceutical companies. It was the passion and compassion that drove me, the belief in what I was doing, that sustained me through the toughest of time.  My grandmother instilled in me the spirit of perseverance against all odds and “never give up”, the principles that guide my actions in Africa today where obstacles are the norm.   

It is with great hope that humanity still has a heart filled with compassion that goes beyond the color of one’s own skin and one’s own borders; a hope that people will begin to realize that our brothers and sisters are dying in tragic numbers; and a hope that people truly are more important than profits in this business that is life.

{xtypo_quote}The challenges ahead are immense but my determination to increase access to affordable and high-quality medicines to the poorest of the poor wherever they are continues to propel me to carry on with my journey. . {/xtypo_quote}

Thank you a lovely phto from http://www.bloggang.com/mainblog.php?id=raks