PAHO Director Remarks at the joint awards dinner. Innovative public health leaders whose work has improved health in the Americas were honored with the “PAHO/PAHEF Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Public Health” before an audience of ambassadors, ministers of health, U.S. government officials, and top-level company executives. The awards are cosponsored by the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Washington, DC. 27 September 2010. (OAS)
* Dr. Mirta Roses' remarks
Dear friends and colleagues,
This year we celebrate 100th anniversary of Dr. Abraham Horwitz’ birth (1910-2000) and the 10th anniversary of his passing; hence, we want to remember his productive life. When he was 47 years old, he was appointed director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), a position that he kept for 16 years, from 1958 to 1975. He was the first Latin American to hold the post, and his strong vision and effective leadership changed the concept of health and international technical cooperation. During his term, a significant institutional development took place in the Region, especially in terms of basic sanitation, nutrition, and communicable disease eradication. These changes ushered in unexplored lines of thinking, such as the relationship among economy, modern administration, and health. Furthermore, this time was marked by profound social, political, and economic changes, which created an environment that fostered the search for new responses and solutions for the problems that afflicted the countries of the Americas.
In past years, events in the Americas have brought into sharp focus the importance of the interconnectedness of human health, security, and well-being. Human security means protecting not only vital freedoms. It also entails protecting people’s exposure to threats and risks and strengthening the population’s resilience and capacity to cope with loss and destruction. Moreover, it also means developing systems that provide the basic support for survival and ensuring for all people a long life lived with dignity and opportunities to fulfill their potential.
Poverty, the spread of diseases, environmental destruction, lack of access to clean water, poor maternal health, and not having a decent job have not traditionally been considered threats to the safety of people in general, women, communities, or the diverse groups within them
In the 2002 Declaration of Bridgetown, OAS Member States acknowledged the “multidimensional” nature of hemispheric security, noting its political, economic, social, health, and environmental dimensions. In the 2003 Declaration on Security in the Americas, the countries declared that “the basis and purpose of security is the protection of human beings.”
PAHO contributed to this process with a report, “Health and Hemispheric Security,” which stated that “health is a national and international security interest” and an intrinsic part of human security; better health leads to greater human security, and greater human security leads to better health and quality of life.
I have chosen this theme for the Annual Report of the Director to reflect the increased visibility of health at the highest levels of the political agenda and to present the technical support that PAHO has provided to its Member States in a period of in which we have experienced pandemics, natural disasters, and catastrophic human losses, such as those suffered from the impact of earthquakes. In all these endeavors we have had the generous support of many partners, donors, NGOs, faith-based groups, the private sector, and professional associations, as well as different groups from civil society.
Health is central to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as reflected in the addresses by Heads of Government last week during the Millennium Summit. Health also is central in the UN’s positive response to the proposal of the Caribbean countries to convene a UN Summit on chronic diseases in 2011. I was recently elected as chair of the Global Agenda Council on Chronic Diseases and Well-being from the World Economic Forum, and I will be ensuring that we continue the partnership with economic leaders and the private sector in addressing the root causes and the key determinants of the chronic disease pandemic. I also work with our partners will strive to find the best ways to guarantee universal access to prevention, treatment, and care for those at risk or those who are already suffering from these diseases.
As you can see, we are all part of this challenge, and we have the commitment to face these threats to improve people's lives. There are many ways and entry points to contribute to improve health and human security. The agenda for the 50th Directing Council addresses important topics in this regard.
This Annual Awards Dinner, jointly convened and organized by PAHEF and which has the generous support of cosponsors, is also an important opportunity to acknowledge distinguished leaders and experts who have excelled in their field of expertise or in their positions, making the world we live a healthier and safer place for all.
Let me introduce you the recipients of the 2010 PAHO Award on Administration and a 2010 PAHO Champion of Health
Award for Administration
The PAHO Award for Administration 2010 is awarded to Dr. Elsa Yolanda Palou, of Honduras, for the national and subregional impact of her administrative, medical, teaching, and research activities on improving quality of care for patients with communicable diseases, especially people HIV.
During her 25-year professional career as a medical infectious disease specialist, Dr. Palou has played an important role in managing and providing training for HIV patient care in both Honduras and at the regional level. She has been a key player in the implementation of the National Commission on AIDS and important initiatives such as the Global Fund Project in Honduras. Dr. Palou has pioneered new medical training and contributed to the development of regional and national technical guides. Her work and vision have made a real difference in the quality of care given to patients with infectious diseases and to those living with the HIV.
PAHO Champion of Health
Fernando Javier Sendra, an Argentine cartoonist, is well known throughout the Region of the Americas for his insightful and clever character "Yo Matias" (“I Matias”). For the World Cups of 2002, 2006 and 2010, Mr. Sendra has graciously given permission to PAHO to use his work for our campaign "Dos grandes pasiones en mi vida: Fútbol y pecho" to promote breastfeeding, which uses the tag line "Breast-milk: First food of champions." During this year’s World Cup, a breastfeeding campaign using Mr. Sendra’s images was carried out in Spanish, English, Portuguese and French Creole. PAHO’s 2010 World Breastfeeding Week poster is also based on a Sendra cartoon. The favorable reaction to this campaign illustrates the power of humor to deliver a public health message.
Mr. Sendra is the author of more than 20 books, including 10 in the “Yo, Matías” series. He began his career as a cartoonist in 1973, publishing cartoons in leading magazines and newspapers. In 1990, his strip “Prudencio” (which became “Yo, Matías”) began to appear in El Clarín, the most popular daily newspaper in Argentina.
Congratulations and thank you for your continuous support.