|Health Promoters Honored for Saving Lives in Colombia|
Quibdó, Colombia, March 6, 2008 (PAHO)â€”A group of rural health promoters traveled 14 hours by boat this week to receive the 2007 Clarence H. Moore Award for Voluntary Service for their service to indigenous and ethnic communities in Chocó, Colombia.
The Associated Committee of Ethnic Health Promoters of Lower Atrato, known as COAPIBAS, received the award in Quibdó on Monday in recognition of its "outstanding work and dedication providing preventive and primary health care to indigenous and ethnic communities."
The award was presented in Quibdó to 10 of the group's members by the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), as part of the organizations' Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Public Health Program.
COAPIBAS is a nongovernmental organization of more than 30 health promoters who live and work in the largely indigenous, Afro-Colombia, and Mestizo communities in Colombia's northwestern department of Chocó. The communities comprise more than 20,000 people located in remote areas where there are no roads and most residents lack running water and electricity. The health promoters offer critical preventive and curative services that have contributed to a decline in reported rates of deaths and illness in the communities they serve.
Dr. Gerardo Alfaro, PAHO coordinator of technical cooperation for health systems and services development in Colombia, presented the PAHO/PAHEF award to COAPIBAS's president, Frey Tuberquia, and to the group's health promoters during a ceremony led by Chaco Governor Patrocinio Sánchez Montes de Oca and attended by the mayors of 15 Chaco municipalities. Dr. Alfaro conveyed personal messages of congratulations from PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses and PAHEF Executive Director Edward Kadunc.
"Indigenous health and the health of vulnerable populations are a special focus of mine during my tenure at PAHO," said Dr. Roses in her message. "Thus, I am especially pleased to announce this award."
"COAPIBAS is an exemplary example of what dedicated health workers can do to bring improved health and lives to their families and communities," said Mr. Kadunc. "We commend you for your accomplishments and commitment."
The Clarence H. Moore Award for Voluntary Service is given each year to recognize and celebrate the public health achievements of nongovernmental organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Mr. Clarence Moore was a distinguished public administrator and a man of high idealism and altruistic motivation. He served in various leadership capacities at PAHO during his long and distinguished career. Upon retirement from PAHO, he directed PAHEF from its inception in 1968 until his death in 1988.
The Pan American Health and Education Foundation is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization working to combat disease, lengthen life, improve health care services, foster health research, and enhance the capacities of health care workers in the Americas through grant-making and direct program implementation. The Foundation works to promote philanthropy as a core social value, and shares the Pan American Health Organization's vision of Health for All.
The Pan American Health Organization, founded in 1902, works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples. It serves as the Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO).
To learn more about the Pan American Health and Education Foundation, visit www.pahef.org.