Commencement Speaker

Dear Student, Faculty, Academic Appointees and Staff:

ramsammyI am pleased to announce that former Minister of Health and current Minister of Agriculture of Guyana Leslie Ramsammy M.Sc. Ph.D., will be this year’s Commencement speaker.

Due to ill health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health alumnus Dr. Donald Hopkins, MPH ’70, is unable to fulfill this role as had been planned.  We wish Don a speedy recovery and are very happy that Dr. Ramsammy has so graciously agreed to be our speaker.

Dr. Ramsammy has a long career in public health as a leader in Guyana, the Caribbean region, and globally, with a particular focus on efforts to curtail malaria and AIDS.   He has served as a member of the Guyana Parliament  since 1997. He is also trained as a basic scientist, having received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from St. John’s University in New York in the 1980s.

Since 2001, Dr. Ramsammy has dedicated much of his career to the elimination of HIV/AIDS, and the Guyana National AIDS Program made tremendous strides under his leadership as health minister, reducing the spread of the disease particularly among pregnant women and babies being born to HIV-positive mothers. He was Chairman of the Executive Board of Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS, Chairman of the CARICOM Council for Human and Social Development and Chairman of the Caribbean Public Health Agency. Dr. Ramsammy was honored by the Guyana National AIDS Programme Secretariat in 2010 for his vision in pursuing the elimination of new HIV infections and for his successful decade-long stewardship as health minister.

Dr. Ramsammy served as the President of 61st World Health Assembly in 2008-2009, becoming  the first Minister of the Americas to hold that post in over 35 years and only the second representative from the region to ever do so. Prior to that post, he served as President of the Pan American Health Organization’s 47th Directing Council.

Dr. Ramsammy’s impressive and extensive public health stewardship saw him elected Chairman of the Global Fund for Affordable Medicines for Malaria, a position he held from 2010 – 2011.  He has also served as Director of the Global Fund Board and its Policy and Strategy Committee representing Latin America and the Caribbean.

We are exceptionally pleased that someone with Dr. Ramsammy’s breadth of experience in government service and regional and global public health leadership will speak to our students and look forward to his speech at this year’s Commencement.

Julio Frenk

Dean of the Faculty