Tribute to the Honourable Dr. Leslie Ramsammy former Minister of Health, Guyana
[Guyana. 7 Dec 2011.]
On behalf of the Pan American Health Organization, I congratulate the Honourable Dr. Leslie Ramsammy on his appointment as Minister of Agriculture after the general elections held in Guyana on 28 November 2011.
Prior to that appointment, Dr. Ramsammy served as Guyana’s Minister of Health for approximately 10 years, making him one of the longest serving ministers of health in the world, if not the longest serving. During that time, he was a tireless advocate for health, not only at national level, but at international levels, through his participation in various international fora and groupings.
At the global and American regional levels, Dr. Ramsammy has served as the President of the World Health Assembly and the PAHO Directing Council, and he was the representative for Latin America and the Caribbean on the Board of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
At the Caribbean regional level, he has been Chairman of the Caribbean Community’s Council for Human and Social Development, Chair of the Caucus of CARICOM Ministers responsible for Health, and was recently named Chairman of the Executive Board of the newly established Caribbean Public Health Agency, CARPHA, which aims to integrate the current CARICOM specialized centres and more efficiently and effectively address the regional public health needs of CARICOM countries.
Dr. Ramsammy is well-known not only for his passion for public health, but also for his outspokenness – he tells it as it is. Though some may object to that style, we all have to admit that we were never in doubt as to what he thought about particular matters in his advocacy for equity and the health of the people of Guyana, the Caribbean, the Americas, and the world.
We at PAHO will miss his presence in the health sector, but we know that in his new position he will continue to be a fierce advocate for, and contributor to, health, since he sees clearly the links between health and other sectors. He is very aware of the importance of addressing the social determinants of health as we move further toward the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the vision of Health for All. He knows the importance of the intersection between health and agriculture, as countries strive to enhance their food and nutrition security and safety. This is a critical input for the prevention and for the maintenance and restoration of health.
He became a champion for the historic meeting of Heads of Government in Port-of-Spain, which led the world to the United Nations High Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases. He was one of the first political leaders to call the attention to the rising wave of noncommunicable diseases and started advocating early for their inclusion within the Millennium Development Goals framework.
On a personal note, I would like to thank Minister for his advice and guidance when I was Assistant Director and when I became Director. I was always reassured that I could call anytime and count on him to discuss the most complex or challenging issues. He never hesitated to respond positively to requests for chairing the most controversial debates. He always made time and efforts to negotiate for consensus building and he became essential for reminding participants of the background and the evolution of the decision making processes. Minister became a critical custodian of the institutional memory of PAHO, CARICOM, GAVI, and Global Fund Governing Bodies.
So, we thank Dr. Ramsammy for his service to health, wish him equal success in his new portfolio, and look forward to continuing to work with him in preserving and enhancing the health of the people of Guyana, the Caribbean, the Region of the Americas, and the world.
See more: WHO. Dr Leslie Ramsammy, President of the 61st World Health Assembly
For more information, contact Office of the Director, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO)