As former heads of state and the immediate Past Director of the Pan American Health Organization, the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ (Global Network) Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) Special Envoys provide the political voice and technical expertise needed to control and eliminate the most common NTDs by 2020. The Global Network Special Envoy program is made possible through generous financing from Dr. Gary Michelson and his wife Alya Michelson of the Michelson Medical Research Foundation.

Global Network’s NTD Special Envoys travel the globe to advocate for donor governments to incorporate NTD initiatives into existing development programs, encourage endemic country governments to prioritize the development and implementation of national NTD plans, and work with key G7/8 and G20 countries to increase their support for NTD control and elimination through expanded technical assistance and increased investments.

Through their hard work and dedication, the Global Network’s distinguished NTD Special Envoys expand the reach of global NTD advocacy efforts through media interviews, publications and opinion pieces, and the political engagement needed to close the funding gap for reaching the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2020 goals for NTD control and elimination.

H.E. Alvaro Arzú Irigoyen, President of the Republic of Guatemala (1996–2000)

His Excellency Alvaro Arzú Irigoyen is currently the Mayor of Guatemala City and served as President of Guatemala from 1996–2000. While serving as President of Guatemala, he promoted multicultural rights, peace, and international cooperation, and helped Guatemala take the first steps toward recovery from its decades-long civil war.

 H.E. John A. Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana (2001–2009)

His Excellency John A. Kufuor served as the President of Ghana from 2001–2009. Under his leadership, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to halve both the proportion of its population who suffer from hunger and the proportion of its population living on less than a dollar per day, making significant strides towards achieving the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). President Kufuor also currently serves as a UN World Food Programme Ambassador Against Hunger, UN Special Envoy on Climate Change and the Chair of Sanitation and Water for All (SWA).

H.E. Ricardo Lagos Escobar, President of the Republic of Chile (2000–2006)

His Excellency Ricardo Lagos is a lawyer and economist, and he served as President of Chile from 2000–2006. As President, he established the Explicit Guarantees and Universal Access (AUGE) health program, which guaranteed health coverage for a number of medical conditions. President Lagos teaches political science and economic development at Brown University, and since 2007 he has served as a UN Special Envoy on Climate Change.

Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (2003–2013)

Dr. Mirta Roses Periago served as the Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) from 2003-2013. She received her medical degree from the National University of Córdoba, Argentina, in 1969 and specialized in public health, epidemiology, clinical medicine and infectious diseases in her graduate studies at universities in Brazil and Argentina. Dr. Roses has shown unwavering commitment to achieving equity in the delivery of health care and continues to champion the cause of marginalized populations. 

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H.E. John A. Kufuor, Global Network NTD Special Envoy and Former President of the Republic of Ghana