‘The case for aid? Poverty can be a catalyst for extremist views’
Thursday, June 6, 2013
You’ve had a diverse career. Tell us about it. I started out as a practising cardiologist and professor of public health atToulouse University. I then decided to move into policy and served for a long time as a politician, first as minister of health and subsequently as minister of culture and communication, minister for solidarity, health and family, and finally as minister of foreign affairs. I am now chair of the board of Unitaid, as well as the special adviser to the secretary general of the United Nations on innovative finance for development.
Where did your interest in development come from? I would say, however, that the most defining moment of my career – and one that moved me towards working in development – was a conversation I had with President Chirac while I was a minister. He told me the most important thing in the world today for politicians is to care about the 1.5 billion people who have nothing. Why? Obviously for ethical and moral reasons, but also for political reasons. As the world becomes more and more interconnected, inequality is increasingly a breeding ground for conflict. If I imagine myself as an 18-year-old in a developing country, seeing my family die from malaria because the world could not give them less than a pound while knowing that in London or Paris a couple may spend £100 on dinner, I can understand how poverty can be a catalyst for extremist views.