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The world may be on the verge of a historic breakthrough in the quest to eradicate infectious diseases once thought incurable, and Japan needs to be a key player, said Mark Dybul, an executive of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

“For the first time in history, we have the ability to not (only reduce) but end public health threats such as malaria and tuberculous, diseases that have been with us for thousands of years,” Dybul, executive director of the Geneva-based nonprofit organization, told The Japan Times on Friday.

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