TB community mourns the loss of a dedicated advocate, Congressman Donald Payne

8 March 2012 - Geneva - The Stop TB Partnership and WHO Stop TB Department mourn the passing of Representative Donald M. Payne, US Congressman from New Jersey. Mr Payne was the first black congressman to be elected in New Jersey, in 1989, and a tireless advocate for global health issues. He died on Tuesday from complications of colon cancer. He was 77.

Mr. Payne was a highly respected senior leader on foreign policy, development, and global health while serving as Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights. He was a founder of the Malaria Caucus in Congress and helped secure billions of dollars in foreign aid for treating HIV, TB and malaria.

"Congressman Payne was a man with great dedication to improving the health of the poor, especially in Africa. Working closely with WHO, he dedicated himself to informing US politicians about the human tragedy of TB. The net result was strong commitment of the US Government to TB control, care and research over years," said Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Stop TB Department.

It is widely acknowledged that his leadership was particularly instrumental in increasing US funding to combat TB. "Congressman Payne's life demonstrated that a single person can make a huge difference in getting desperately needed care to people vulnerable to TB and saving lives. As we mourn his death, let us strive to follow his example," said Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership.