Global health leaders honour UN Secretary-General Special Envoy to Stop Tuberculosis
15 April 2013
A special event to celebrate former President of Portugal Dr Jorge Sampaio’s commitment and dedication to raising the profile of public health and tuberculosis took place at the World Health Organization’s premises in Geneva on 15 April 2013. WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, the Executive Director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Mark Dybul and the UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Programme, Dr Luiz Loures among others honoured Dr Sampaio for his efforts to advocate among global leaders for improved tuberculosis control. A discussion about the future of high-level political advocacy followed the initial remarks.
Dr Sampaio was appointed as UN Secretary-General Special Envoy to Stop Tuberculosis in 2006 and since the beginning he embarked on an ambitious programme to raise the visibility of the disease. In 2008, Dr Sampaio convened the HIV/Tuberculosis Global Leaders' Forum where the co-infection of HIV/TB was defined as a major constraint to economic development and a barrier to social justice and human rights. The Forum managed to increase the engagement of global leaders in supporting the coordination of tuberculosis and HIV services.
Dr Sampaio has always been keen to highlight the crucial role played by civil society and affected communities in the response to HIV and TB. He expressed his personal support by visiting tuberculosis health centres in countries across the globe, including Brazil, Estonia, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Kenya amongst others.
President Sampaio has been an envoy of the first order for TB, but also for the values of public health that WHO stands for. This means access to treatment and care for everyone in need, no matter how poor or marginalized.
One thing that has always struck me when talking to the President Sampaio is that grounding [on justice], that North Star for him that has propelled not only his work on public health but his fight for people suffering from tuberculosis focusing on those most at risk who don’t have access to services because of stigma and discrimination.
If we can report today that we can start to see the end of the AIDS epidemic is in a big part thanks to the leadership of people like President Sampaio during the last 10 years. But President Sampaio is also the future. We need the political leadership that can take a challenge like TB and put people at the center and he knows how to do that.