Tributes from around the world
Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General
"(Dr LEE) was at the forefront of the global fight to prevent an avian flu pandemic, and was a champion as well in the battle against a host of other public health threats from HIV/AIDS to tuberculosis … Not only was he a valuable leader to WHO staff the world over, but a cherished colleague and friend to me personally."
George W. Bush, President of the United States of America
"Dr. Lee worked tirelessly to improve the health of millions of people, from combating tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS to his aggressive efforts to eradicate polio. He provided tremendous leadership to the international community as it confronted the challenges of the 21st century, including the threat of an influenza pandemic. Dr. Lee's outreach to world leaders and entities increased awareness of potentially devastating public health dangers."
Tadahiro Lee, Dr Lee Jong-wook's son
"My father was a man of action, whose adventurous spirit led him to experience more, see more, and do more. This spirit made him great at work, and great at life."
Mark Harrington, Executive Director Treatment Action Group (TAG)
"People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) around the world should take a moment and recognize the pivotal contributions to their lives made by Dr. LEE Jong-wook. TAG expresses its solidarity with all those who are mourning the loss of this transformative leader in the world’s struggle against AIDS. Unusually among global leaders, Dr. Lee made transforming the world’s response to HIV/AIDS one of his leading priorities. Under his watch, and with his whole support, WHO … took a leading role in guiding the response to the pandemic."
Nicolás Vidal, President of the Liga Peruana Antitabáquica
"He was really friendly person and told us to keep the antitobacco job up to help Peruvian children. So we will keep fighting and we will do it much better! We want to say: Thank you very much dear Dr. Lee. We will remember you!"
Dr Fouad Mojallid, WHO Representative in Syria
"We lost a great man and a devoted fighter for the human health rights. May he rest in peace."
M. Philippe Douste-Blazy, Ministre des Affairs Etrangères de la France
"Le Dr Lee était avant tout un médecin de santé publique au service des autres et d’abord des plus défavorisés. J’avais beaucoup travaillé avec le Dr Lee dans un esprit d’amitié. Dans tous nos contacts, il avait toujours été un interlocuteur ouvert, efficace et disponible. Partageant la même formation en santé publique, nous évoquions souvent les rapports entre pauvreté et pandémie. Tout récemment encore, je l’avais rencontré à Genève pour aborder la question de l’accès des pays en développement aux médicaments contre les grandes pandémies. Je voudrais ici souligner ses qualités qui alliaient compétence et sens de l’écoute."
Rhyu Si-min, Minister of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea
"Dr Lee's work defined and exemplified the very best of WHO. He wanted change to take place on the ground. He travelled great distances, to more than 60 countries in three years. And he would never hesitate to travel the distance across the floor to take the hand of a child who was sick. His work has touched millions, and has made their lives better."
Paul Wolfowitz, President, The World Bank
"Dr Lee was a truly inspirational leader, having risen to the position of Director-General after many years in developing countries, advancing the fight against tuberculosis and other diseases that affect the poorest people around the world. His compassion, allied with his trademark affability, made him cherished by people everywhere. Dr Lee's vision for a world without disease or ill health will not be lost."
Dr Bill Kean, head of Dr Lee's office
"This was a man who combined extraordinary intelligence with personal integrity. He liked literature but hated adjectives, especially applied to himself. He liked just the plain facts. He was a man of many actions and few words. Rather than saying something, he would do it. He expected the same of everybody else. ... He was never off duty. His agile mind was constantly turning over situations, plans and ideas. He never stopped thinking."
Monsieur le Président Jacques Chirac, France
"Le Docteur LEE était avant un grand médecin, un homme de vision et de générosité au service des autres et d'abord des plus défavorisés. Au siège régional de l'Organisation Mondiale de la Santé dans le Pacifique, puis à la tête de cette organisation à Genève, il s'était imposé comme un acteur engagé et résolu de la lutte contre les principaux défis mondiaux en matière de santé. Son actions dynamique dans la lutte contre le sida, ou encore pour combattre les maladies infantiles ou la tuberculose, a été déterminante dans la mobilisation internationale contre ces fléaux. Elle continuera de nous inspirer à l'avenir.
Je tiens tout particulièrement à rendre hommage à son dévouement inlassable au service de l'humanité et à son éminente contribution aux idéaux des Nations Unies."
Charity Kaluki NGILU, Minster of Health, Kenya
"Dr Lee Jong-wook, your death was untimely. You made a big difference in the lives of the poor and especially in the African continent during your very short time in WHO as the Director-General. Your pro-poor policies will be remembered by all us us. Your Great Initiative 3x5 helped Kenya put 70,000 people on ART by 2005 which would not have been possible had you not helped us.
We shall keep your policies going in your remembrance.
God Rest your soul in eternal peace."
Dr Halfdan Mahler, Director-General Emeritus
"Dear Dr Lee, Dear Friend,
I shall always remember your generosity when you repeatedly invited me to express my opinion about the importance of WHO to remember its commitment to "Health for All" in the spirit of the Alma-Ata declaration. You also succeeded to open the doors of WHO to civil society organizations in general and to the Peoples Health Movement in particular. Indeed, you did that, not in the spirit of cautious politeness, but in the spirit of time integrating the opinions of civil society in WHO's activities. In so doing, you will recall that I once quoted to you a quote of Peit Heim:
"We who are fighting to realize dreams, ask for the task of uniting extremes."
Dr Mirta Roses Periago, WHO Regional Director for the Americas
"Dr Lee was a much respected and loved leader among the staff of the Pan American Health Organization and indeed to all the staff of WHO. We experienced him as a visionary leader, who demonstrated great character, devotion to service and concern for staff. He loved the poor and was an advocate for their well-being. He truly was a gentle, caring spirit, who was not afraid to stand for justice and to defend the needs of the poor. As a champion of the marginalized, his life's journey was founded on the deepest respect for human life, and the freedom and dignity of each person.
Although his passing was all too soon, his memory will live on, his legacy will continue to inspire the work of the Organization and motivate each of us to strive for the ideals to which he gave his life."
Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD
"It is with great sorrow that we at UNCTAD have learned of the death of Dr LEE Jong-wook. On behalf of all my colleagues, and also on my own behalf, I wish to join our voice to the many tributes that have been paid to him. His bold leadership and intelligence, unflagging energy and devotion to his work, along with his personal warmth and approachability made him an inspiration to the entire international community, both in Geneva and beyond. He will be sorely missed."
Jimmy Carter, Former President of the United States
"Rosalynn and I were shocked and saddened to learn of Dr Lee's passing. He was a rare individual who was devoted to public service through effective public health programs. An intense, daring, and accomplished person, he inspired us through his grace, humility and vision for a better world.
He has been a strong supporter of the effort to eradicate Guinea worm disease as one way to improve the human condition. I was pleased to welcome him to The Carter Center in September 2003 and to have him join me on the follow-up visit to Ghana in February 2004. Dr Lee's death is a personal loss for Rosalynn and me and a tragic loss for the whole world."
Lynda, Baroness Chalker of Wallesey, Chairman, Medicines for Malaria Venture
"On behalf of the Medicines for Malaria Venture's staff and board, I would like to express my deepest condolence for your loss. The world has lost a great man and a passionate advocate for global health. Just hours before he fell ill, Dr Lee gave an impassioned talk at a meeting on malaria where he spoke about World Health Organization's leadership role in raising the malaria issue to the top of the political agenda and shared his vision of universal access to antimalarial drugs. He spoke from his heart about how the lives of the poorest at risk of this deadly disease are dependent on the work of WHO, MMV and others. He inspired all of us to look beyond our daily work and see the success we can achive as a community when we all work together. Dr Lee was a strong voice for all those that are voiceless and advocate on behalf of all under-privileged. We will miss his wisdom, vision and unparalleled leadership."
Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director UNAIDS
"It was with great sadness that I learnt of the death of Dr Lee, my friend and ally of UNAIDS. I would like to express my deepest sympathy on behalf of the UNAIDS family. Dr Lee, one of the greatest forces for good health, will be remembered for his commitment to help all people attain the highest possible level of health. At UNIADS particularly he will be remembered for his personal determination to transform the AIDS response and to help people affected by this epidemic. With the threats to global health that the world faces, the loss of Dr Lee - the leader, the humanitarian, the policymaker - will be greatly felt not only by the UN family, but by the whole world."
María Soledad Barria, Ministra de Salud, República de Chile
"En nombre propio y en el de los miembros del Ministerio de Salud de Chile, deseo manifestarle nuestra consternación ante el deceso del distinguido Director General de Organización Mundial de la salud, Dr. Lee Jong-wook. Su capacidad de trabajo, su inteligencia y su gran compromiso con el mundo de la salud merecieron nuestra admiración."
Micheline Calmy-Rey, Vice-présidente du Conseil fédéral, Suisse
"Nous saluons l'action du Dr. LEE Jong-wook, qui a consacré de nombreuses années de sa vie à oeuvrer au service de l'OMS avant d'en prendre la Direction générale en 2003. Sous sa conduite, l'OMS a poursuivi avec détermination ses activités visant à améliorer la santé dans le monde, un objectif primordial qui - où que nous nous trouvions et qu'elle que soit notre appartenance sociale, religieuse ou culturelle - concerne chacune et chacun d'entre nous."
Dr Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary, GAVI Alliance Secretariat
"Dr Lee was an early advocate for taking an open approach to working with the vaccine industry, an approach adopted by the GAVI Alliance and one which has led to an increase in the number of suppliers of vaccines needed in the developing world. As important as his professional leadership, Dr Lee brought humour and laughter to GAVI Alliance Board deliberations with his self-deprecating and quirky sense of humour. Dr Lee will be sadly missed by all in the GAVI Secretariat and all partners in the GAVI Alliance will feel the profound absence created by his passing."
Bill and Melinda Gates
"Dr Lee was a champion for health, and his leadership has touched millions of lives around the world. His principles, compassion, and drive have inspired others to share his belief that, with hard work and determination, even the most intractable global health problems can be overcome.
While Dr Lee's death is a tragic loss for the global health community, the world will benefit from his vision and inspiration. His commitment to a healthier, more equitable world will be his enduring legacy."
María Isabel Ducreux, Oficina OMS PANAMA
"La ambiciosa visión mundial de ofertar servicios de salud de un alto estandar de calidad en especial a los que menos tienen y de lograr para ellos el más alto grado de salud, es lo que reflejan las acciones del Dr Lee quien no escatimó esfuerzos por hacer oir ese grito silencioso y desesperado de la muchedumbre necesitada de alimento, medicamento, cobijo y de los otros tantos, que sí tienen pero están ciegos, que cargan consigo sus propias e imaginarias muletas por que desconocen la verdadera necesidad básica que dignifica la vida del hombre en la tierra: la humanidad y los valores más intrinsecos."
James T Douglas, Friend and Professor, University of Hawaii
"Uggie, (JW LEE) was a dear friend and former student of mine at the University of Hawaii in 1980-81. Dr and Professor Bob Worth introduced us and we worked together on serological test for leprosy based on field work Uggie was doing in Micronesia. He worked in my laboratory helping to develop a serological test for leprosy. His work helped us establish the fact that serological test were good at detecting the lepromatosis side of leprosy responsible for transmission. This provided the basis for us to continue to develop a more sophisticated test over the next 15 years and created the basis for our field work and validation of the tests."
Dr Lee's widow has requested that donations in memory of Dr Lee should be given to the project where she works, Socios En Salud in Lima, Peru. Donations can be given via the sister organization of Socios En Salud, Partners In Health www.pih.org