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In Memoriam: Kamran Rafiq – A Visionary Leader in Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)

If you are a PLOS NTDs reader, it is almost certain that you have heard the name Kamran Rafiq. If you are a researcher and/or advocate in this field, you most likely attended one of the many NTD events organized by Kamran and his wife Marianne. Furthermore, if you are affected by an NTD, a patient, or a family member of someone suffering from one of these conditions, it is likely that your lives have been positively touched by Kamran’s vision, compassion, advocacy, and leadership.

Kamran, an individual whose unwavering dedication has left a profound mark on the global health community and the pursuit to end all NTDs.

Kamran Rafiq, the co-founder, and Communications Director of the International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ISNTD) dedicated his life to combating the disproportionate impact of NTDs on vulnerable populations around the world. Whether it was by telling the world about the horribly disfiguring yet poorly known Noma disease, through stories of Chagas patients living in the Andes mountains, or about filariasis and its debilitating consequences, or about the suffering of those with visceral leishmaniasis in war-torn countries. Kamran’s passion for addressing the neglected health needs of the most marginalized and underserved communities was an inspiration to all who had the privilege of working alongside him.

His departure leaves a void that will be felt throughout the entire NTD scientific community and beyond.

With deep compassion and empathy, and a great sense of humor, Kamran spearheaded groundbreaking initiatives to eliminate the burden of NTDs and thereby build. His tireless leadership and eloquent advocacy, which leveraged the best science and sometimes art, helped propel these diseases of the world’s poorest to the forefront of key global health discussions, facilitating invaluable (and unlikely) collaborations and fostering a sense of shared purpose among experts, policymakers, advocates, and affected communities.

Kamran made significant contributions to research and development of NTD treatments and prevention. His capacity to see partnerships where nobody else could, his curiosity, and relentless pursuit of knowledge played a pivotal role in advancing our understanding of these complex diseases. His contributions will continue to shape the landscape of NTD research and advocacy, inspiring future generations to pursue novel solutions and break the silence around the neglect that keep populations trapped in poverty and disease. He always dreamed that soon these diseases would be nothing but a chapter in history books erased from future generations. It is our collective responsibility to see his vision to fruition.


By guest contributors Carolina Batistaa, Bernard Pécoulb, Callie Bangyekanc, Maria Elena Bottazzid, Eric Comtee, Sheba Meymandif, Albert Picadog, Luis Pizarrob, Angus Thomsonh, Kishor M. Wasani, Jean-Antoine Zinsoj, and Peter Jay Hotezd

a Baraka Impact Finance

b DNDi: Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative

c Valneva SE

d Baylor College of Medicine

e Universite de Geneve

f UCLA: University of California Los Angeles

g Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Health: Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

h Irimi Company

i The University of British Columbia

j Sanofi Pasteur Ltd

  1. I connected with Kamran during our work on dengue fever. Always admired his dedication to NTDs. I will miss him and his contribution to global public health.

  2. We will remember Kamran Rafiq as a through advocate for the fight against NTDs. His efforts and dedication will be much missed. He has inspired many people. Our thoughts go out to his loved ones.

    Dr. Henk Schallig, on behalf of the Experimental Parasitology Lab at the Academic Medical Centre (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

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