Former President John Agyekum Kufuor returned home Tuesday night from a three-nation working tour of Europe that took him to Geneva, Switzerland, Berlin, Germany and Oslo, Norway during which he met policy and lawmakers, business executives, as well as representatives of giant pharmaceutical companies.
He also held discussions with former German President Horst Koehler in his office in Berlin over wide-ranging issues of mutual concern.
At his first stop in Geneva, former President Kufuor addressed a conference by the Africa Business Initiative and the Swiss Business Council on Africa on leveraging business opportunities in Africa.
His meetings in Berlin and Oslo were in his capacity as Special Envoy of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) where he asked for increased support for the seven diseases which receive the least attention on the global health agenda.
Former President Kufuor said these diseases which afflict “the poorest of the poor in some of the poorest parts of the world costs very little to eradicate” and asked governments to put them on top of their health agenda in terms of funding and support.
“It takes only 50 cents per person a day for one year to eliminate these diseases which cause anemia, blindness and has debilitating effect on its victims making it impossible for them to work or attain their full potential school and thus perpetuating the poverty cycle in these communities,” Former President Kufuor said.
At a forum with giant pharmaceutical companies, including Merck and Bayer, in Berlin, he called for increased public-private-partnership in the fight against River Blindness, Elephantiasis, Snail Fever, Trachoma, Whip worm, Round worm and Hook worm infections which afflict about one billion people in the world.
Former President Kufuor expressed satisfaction with responses from his meetings and said he felt committed to fighting for the eradication of the diseases because he had seen their deadly effects at first-hand.