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On the Anniversary of the Death of Arturo Romero

"On this first anniversary of the death of our dear friend, the exceptional Colombian epidemiologist Arturo Romero, we remember him for his legacy and his work in the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Therefore, on behalf of PAHO and myself personally, this week we would like to extend our our deepest sympathies to his beloved family, colleagues, and friends, and we join them in remembering Arturo on the anniversary of his passing.

In 1954, Arturo Romero received his medical degree from the National University of Colombia. He did advanced training in Phthisiology in Colombia's Ministry of Public Health in 1963 and obtained his Masters Degree in Public Health the following year in São Paulo, Brazil. In 1971, he took an advanced course in Epidemiology at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.

During his years in Colombia, he participated in the development of the Public Health Services of the CaucaValley. Furthermore, he left his mark on the field of communicable diseases, especially tuberculosis, which was the focus of several of his jobs and research studies.

We are proud that Dr. Romero came to PAHO in 1968 and for 18 years worked closely with us. He first worked in Guayaquil, Ecuador, as an adviser on tuberculosis. He was then transferred to Guatemala, where he worked as an epidemiology adviser. He also served at PAHO Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and in the Representative Office in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In 1983, he settled once again in Washington, D.C., where he became Director of PAHO's Epidemiological Surveillance Unit. He was also a member of the International Association of Epidemiology and of the American Public Health Association, among other organizations.

But perhaps one of his most significant achievements was the specialized texts that he left us on epidemiology and social medicine. After retiring in 1987 in Medellín, Colombia, Arturo threw himself into his passion for writing and left us four formidable books that constitute a legacy for medicine, public health, and epidemiology, particularly in his home country.

In 1990, he published Historia de la Práctica de la Medicina Social en Colombia [History of the Practice of Social Medicine in Colombia]. Six years later he wrote Historia de la Medicina Colombiana Siglo XIX [History of 19th Century Colombian Medicine] and the following year published Investigación de las Dolencias Infecciousas en la Historia [Investigation of Infectious Diseases in History]. In 1999, he published Historia de la Salud Pública y la Epidemiología en Colombia[History of Public Health and Epidemiology in Colombia]. Unfortunately, he was unable to finish a manuscript on the link between art and medicine, a subject he greatly enjoyed.

Arturo was a great humanist who not only distinguished himself in medical research, but also as a professional committed to his field. He was forthright and rigorous, but also irreverent, dedicated to his work and his family, and was, as well, a dear friend. Because of this, at this time when his absence is keenly felt, we remember him with lasting affection."

Mirta Roses


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