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Two institutions from the Americas honored during the 64th World Health Assembly

Geneva , 19 May 2010 (PAHO/WHO)- Two institutions from the Region of the Americas were honored on the fourth day of sessions of the World Health Assembly. The Pequeña Familia de María Brotherhood in the Republic of Panama received the Sasakawa Health Prize, while the Clodomiro Picado Institute of Costa Rica was awarded the Dr. LEE Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health.

"This award represents not only encouragement for us, but a shot in the arm to forge ahead through gray clouds, cold winds, sunny days, starry nights with a terrible splendor (…) Thank you in the name of so many of our boys and girls who are living with HIV/AIDS, in the name of those young people who cross our threshold, wounded or punished for life: with tears in their eyes from their pain and often without the strength to carry on … and also in the name of the young pregnant women, raped or deceived, rejected and stigmatized (…). Thank you in the name of the adults living with HIV/AIDS who come to our center in search of understanding, love, and hope."

So stated a visibly moved Fr. Vincent Morgante on receiving the award from Yohei Sasakawa, President of the Nippon Foundation and Goodwill Ambassador of the World Health Organization (WHO), and Prof. Kenzo Kiikuni, Chairman of the Board of the Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation in the presence of Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, and the President of the World Health Assembly, Dr. Christos Patsalides, Minister of Health of Cyprus.

The Pequeña Familia de María Brotherhood is a nonprofit association, established in 2000 and administered by the Albergue de María association. The brotherhood provides humanitarian and Christian assistance to people of all ages with HIV/AIDS, offering them a comprehensive recovery program that includes physical, emotional, family, and spiritual assistance. It has a pediatric and dental clinic, as well as a physical therapy unit, and provides orientation, social services, and housing for the children. It is also in charge of coordinating orders for antiretroviral drugs, overseeing their distribution and coordinating test results.

"From this historic podium, timidly but at the same time forcefully, I want to call on all men of good will to restore the values of human dignity, so positive and so beautiful, that the Creator has placed in the heart of every human being for a better world," concluded Fr. Morgante amid the applause.

The award, shared on this occasion with Dr. Eva Siracká, President of the Slovak League against Cancer, is US$ 30,000 for individuals and US$ 40,000 for institutions. With these funds, the Pequeña Familia de María Brotherhood will finance the purchase of formula for newborns aged 0 to 6 months and infants aged 6 to 12 months, in addition to drugs and medical supplies. The funds will also be used to hire a clinical psychotherapist.

The awards ceremony concluded with the awarding of the Dr. LEE Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health to the Clodomiro Picado Institute of Costa Rica for its research on the toxins of venomous animal in Latin America and snake venoms, as well as the production of antivenins for cases of snakebite. The institute is part of the University of Costa Rica and advises the countries on the prevention and treatment of snakebites, as well as the monitoring and quality of antitoxins. The Institute also arranges for projects to collaborate in the production of specific antivenins for countries with limited resources such as Guinea, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, and Papua New Guinea.

On receiving the award from Dr. HAN Kwang-su, President of the Korean Foundation for International Health Acre, accompanied by Dr. Chan of WHO and the President of the World Health Assembly, Dr. Yamileth Angulo Ugalde, Director of the Institute stated that "Costa Rica's long experience has enabled our institute to broaden its sphere of action, collaborating with other countries and the Pan American Health Organization (…). This collaborative effort, in which the science and technology of a small country like ours have helped many people in several regions, allows us to defend the philosophy that scientific knowledge should be used to address the serious problems that oppress humanity."

During the ceremony, Aged Care, Maldives and the Association Tchadienne Communauté pour le Progrès were awarded the United Arab Emirates Health Foundation Prize. Mr. WANG DE Chen of China and the Association Tchadienne Communauté pour le Progrès were awarded the State of Kuwait Prize for Research in Health Promotion.

Link to photo gallery of the 64th World Health Assembly


For more information, please contact Donna Eberwine-Villagran, E-mail:, Phone +1 202 974 3122, cellular +1 202 316 5469, or Leticia Linn, E-mail:, Phone +1 202 974 3440, cellular+1 202 701 4005, fax +1 202 974 3143, Media and Communication-

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