"We should not have to bear the burden of witnessing a preventable and curable disease kill millions of people year in, year out. Inaction will mark our consciences and impair our sense of citizenship." -Jorge Sampaio
Jorge Sampaio isn't your typical tuberculosis (TB) advocate. As former President of the Portuguese Republic and current UN Secretary-General Special Envoy to Stop TB, he stands out as one of the few truly committed political leaders dedicated to generating the public and political will to end TB.
Before focusing his energy on TB, Mr. Sampaio began his extensive and distinguished political career at the University of Lisbon, where he completed his law degree in 1961 and served as the President of the Student Union. After graduation, Mr. Sampaio held numerous leadership roles including the Presidency of the Union of Portuguese-speaking Cities (UCCLA). And in March 1996, Mr. Sampaio was sworn in as the President of Portugal, where he remained until 2006.
Throughout his political career, Mr. Sampaio has addressed many of the global challenges facing the international community, including the fight against TB and HIV/AIDS. Working endlessly to keep TB in the global spotlight, he has encouraged the European and African Unions to place the fight against TB high on their political agendas.
"Far from being under control," Mr. Sampaio warned during a presentation to the European Parliament in 2007, "TB is expanding and the forecasts are dramatic, for they suggest 35 million deaths during the coming 20 years if nothing is done." He firmly believes that only through increased political will and visibility, will progress against TB be made: "Ignoring problems now will make them more expensive and difficult to solve later," he cautions.
Notably, Sampaio was the only head of state who participated in the First UN General Special Assembly on HIV/AIDS in 2001, an act that signified his deep political commitment to stopping the dangerous spread of TB and HIV/AIDS. In 2006, Sampaio was appointed to the role of UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Stop TB, where he continues to help raise the profile of TB on international political and development agendas and encourage world leaders to become dedicated to halting the spread of tuberculosis. His dedication to fighting TB and HIV/AIDS highlights the importance of political leadership as a necessary component of TB control.
Jorge Sampaio leads the Global Leaders' Forum on HIV/TB:Meet more Champions