President John A. Kufuor Appointed Advocate for Neglected Tropical Disease Control

Apr 17, 2012, 12:45 ET from Sabin Vaccine Institute

Former president of Ghana joins forces with the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases to eliminate diseases of poverty

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (Global Network), a major initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, announced President John A. Kufuor as the organization's new neglected tropical disease (NTD) Special Envoy. The collaboration was announced at a luncheon hosted by the Global Network and the African Union to honor the former Ghanian president for his political and humanitarian achievements in Africa and throughout the world.

"We are truly honored to have President Kufuor join our cause," said Dr. Neeraj Mistry, Managing Director of the Global Network. "His record of progress in human development for the people of Ghana and globally speaks for itself. Through President Kufuor's engagement, we hope that endemic and donor countries will work together to achieve the level of support and funds needed for NTD control and elimination by 2020."

NTDs cause blindness, massive swelling in appendages and limbs, severe malnutrition and anemia.  They are a leading cause of pregnancy complications among women and are a key source of poverty by reducing school attendance among children and worker productivity for adults.

"Controlling NTDs is a major factor in improving health systems and reducing poverty in endemic countries," said Kufuor. "I am delighted to apply my experience in improving health, nutrition, and food security programs in Africa to work with governments around the world to increase the funding and public awareness necessary to eliminate these devastating diseases."

Kufuor served as the president of Ghana from 2001 to 2009. During his administration, Kufuor implemented a national feeding program that guaranteed school children at least one nutritious meal per day.  As a result of this program and several other public works campaigns, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to cut in half the number of its people who suffer from hunger as well as the number of people living on less than a dollar per day.

As the Global Network's NTD Special Envoy, Kufuor will travel internationally to educate donor governments on the global NTD burden and the impact of treatment and research. He will encourage donor governments to incorporate NTD control into existing global health or cross-sectoral development programs. Kufuor will initially target countries with strong track records of global health investment and commitments to multilateral organizations like the Global Fund and GAVI.

"Today's event highlights President Kufuor's past accomplishments and applauds his decision to take on a new role to help improve the health and lives of people living in Africa and all over the world," said the Honorable Amina S. Ali, African Union Ambassador to the United States. "With his leadership, donor governments and developing countries will be able to come together to eliminate NTDs. The African Union is looking forward to working with the Global Network and President Kufuor on this new endeavor."

Today's event took place in Washington D.C. and included diplomatic representatives from several countries, including Cape Verde, Cameroon and Ghana as well as leadership from the U.S. Department of State, USAID and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

For more information about today's event and to learn more about the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Disease, please visit

About NTDs
NTDs are a group of 17 parasitic and bacterial infections that are the most common afflictions of the world's poorest people. They blind, disable and disfigure their victims, trapping them in a cycle of poverty and disease. Research shows that treating NTDs lifts millions out of poverty by ensuring that children stay in school to learn and prosper; by strengthening worker productivity; and by improving maternal and child health.

About Sabin Vaccine Institute 
Sabin Vaccine Institute is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization of scientists, researchers, and advocates dedicated to reducing needless human suffering caused by vaccine preventable and neglected tropical diseases. Sabin works with governments, leading public and private organizations, and academic institutions to provide solutions for some of the world's most pervasive health challenges. Since its founding in 1993 in honor of the oral polio vaccine developer, Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the Institute has been at the forefront of efforts to control, treat, and eliminate these diseases by developing new vaccines, advocating use of existing vaccines, and promoting increased access to affordable medical treatments. For more information please visit

About the African Union
The African Union (AU) was established in 2002 to support African countries in their quest for unity, economic and social development. Formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity, it is comprised of 54 African states including both political and administrative bodies.  By focusing on objectives such as national sovereignty, good governance, human rights, sustainable development, and trade, the AU seeks to create an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena.

SOURCE Sabin Vaccine Institute