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President Chinchilla of Costa Rica Visits PAHO

Washington, D.C., 20 May 2011 (PAHO/WHO) - President Laura Chinchilla Miranda of Costa Rica visited the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) on May 19, accompanied by a delegation of Costa Rican diplomats and government officials, to exchange ideas on technical cooperation related to biotechnology investments.

In meetings with PAHO/WHO Assistant Director Dr. Socorro Gross, PAHO/WHO Deputy Director Dr. Jon Andrus, and technical experts from the Organization, President Chinchilla thanked PAHO/WHO for its cooperation and expertise-sharing with Costa Rica, particularly in areas such as social protection.

Dr. Gross noted that, on the same day, Costa Rica's Clodomiro Picado Institute had received the LEE Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health at the 64th World Health Assembly in Geneva, in which PAHO/WHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses is participating this week. The prize recognizes the institute's research on venomous animals in Latin America and basic and applied research on antivenoms and other immunobiologicals, and its production of antivenoms for snakebites. The institute is part of the University of Costa Rica and advises countries on the prevention and treatment of snakebites and on production and quality control of antivenoms.

Dr. Gross said the prize also provides recognition for Costa Rica as a "country that decided to invest in health for development and that has been the source of many proposals and the development of best practices in public health."

Dr. Andrus noted Costa Rica's strong record in public health, particularly in areas such as vaccination and disease control.

During their meetings, the Costa Rican delegation expressed an interest in learning more about initiatives aimed at strengthening national regulatory capacity in medicines and biological products, as well as recommendations on biotechnology ventures. PAHO/WHO technical staff in turn offered to provide technical cooperation and expertise in these and other areas.

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