Donald Payne succumbs to colon cancer

Democrat Rep. Donald Payne of New Jersey. Photo by: House Committee on Education and the Work Force Democrats / CC BY-NC-ND

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation will conduct a special moment of remembrance on Wednesday (March 7) in honor of Democrat Rep. Donald Payne of New Jersey.

The international development community is mourning the death of Payne, a known global health and human rights advocate. Both Democrats and Republicans have expressed their sadness over his loss, including President Barack Obama. Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said his absence will “leave a deep void in the agency.” USAID named its latest development fellowship after Payne.

Payne, who had been battling colon cancer for months, died Tuesday morning at the age of 77. Global humanitarian organization Save the Children said he is a “champion” for fighting poverty and advancing the global agenda for newborn and child survival. He is a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

Payne made enormous contributions to restoring democracy and human rights around the world. He supported the Northern Ireland peace process and authored the Sudan Peace Act, a measure that provides a comprehensive solution to the war in Sudan. It also includes a measure to facilitate famine relief efforts in the country.

A global health advocate, Payne secured $50 million for the prevention, control and treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis. He helped a bill authorizing $50 billion for HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to be passed as well. He also co-founded the Congressional Malaria Caucus, which raises awareness on the global fight against malaria.

But Payne is most regarded for his work in Africa. He was involved in the development of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the creation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program and the strengthening of the African Union. In addition, he was instrumental in leading the legislative fight to free political prisoners in Ethiopia, colleague and fellow Democrat Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois said.

A special primary within the next two and a half months, followed by a special by-election will determine who will succeed Payne, Examiner notes.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.