Leslie Ramsammy

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Leslie Ramsammy (doctor) is a minister of agriculture in Guyana. Appointed on 28 November 2011, after the general elections.


As a young man, he had ambitions to be a journalist but instead, he travelled to the United States of America to study microbiology. After this, he returned to Guyana during a time of political transition where he says he got "caught up in the development." And there he has remained until now, serving in a wide range of public office positions.[1]

Prior to his appointment as agriculture minister, Dr. Ramsammy served as Guyana’s Minister of Health for approximately 10 years, making him one of the longest serving ministers of health in the world. During that time, his passion and drive for better healthcare was recognized not only at national level, but at international levels, through his participation in various international fora and groupings.[2]

At the global and American regional levels, Dr. Ramsammy has served as the President of the World Health Assembly and the PAHO Directing Council, and he was the representative for Latin America and the Caribbean on the Board of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.[3]

At the Caribbean regional level, he has been Chairman of the Caribbean Community’s Council for Human and Social Development, Chair of the Caucus of CARICOM Ministers responsible for Health, and was recently named Chairman of the Executive Board of the newly established Caribbean Public Health Agency, CARPHA, which aims to integrate the current CARICOM specialized centres and more efficiently and effectively address the regional public health needs of CARICOM countries.[4]

From January to March of 2015, Dr. Ramsammy was a Menschel Senior Leadership Fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. In this role, he taught a course in the Department of Global Health and Population titled, "Politics, Public Health, and the Right to Health." During this time, he also participated as a speaker on Voices in Leadership, a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health webcast series, in a session titled, "Leadership in Fighting HIV/AIDS in Guyana." [5] On May 28, 2015, he delivered the Commencement Address to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.[6]


During his time as President of the 61st World Health Assembly, Dr Ramsammy was allowed to vocalise some of his key philosophies on public health.

He believes that global health must be prioritized by Member States and that countries must be clear about their ambitions. "We are too conservative in our global health standards," he says in an interview. "A child born in Tanzania should have the same chance of survival and for living a healthy life as a child born in a developed country."[7]

He calls for a paradigm shift in which "we set universal standards that transcend national goals and for collective global action to help those countries who need support for meeting these global standards." As an ardent supporter of equity and social justice, Dr Ramsammy cautions: "We should not be satisfied with reaching for the low-hanging fruit." He calls for global resources to be mobilized for more equitable health.[8]