It is with great sadness that I received the news of the passing of Dr. Luis Carlos Ochoa, former Assistant Director of PAHO and a beloved public health leader in his native Colombia.
On behalf of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization and myself, I wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and colleagues.
Dr. Ochoa was a member of one of Colombia’s most important generations of public health professionals. He was technically and intellectually rigorous, making him an excellent teacher. His strong managerial skills were evidenced in a series of positions of responsibility that he held throughout his career, including Undersecretary of Health of Medellin, Chief of Preventive Medicine at the Social Security Institute of Antioquia, Secretary General and Vice-Minister in the Colombian Ministry of Health.
Dr. Ochoa spent nearly two decades working for PAHO, in the Organization’s country offices in Argentina and Guatemala as well as in Washington, where he served as Chief of the Disease Prevention and Control Division, Operations Manager, Director of Infrastructure, and ultimately Assistant Director. He traveled to many countries on behalf of PAHO and was on the official PAHO delegation to Alma Ata.
In his native Colombia, Dr. Ochoa was a faculty member at the Medical School of the University of Antioquia, teaching health administration and health planning. He also taught at the School of Hygiene and Public Health at the University of Sao Paulo and was a guest lecturer in universities and public forums throughout Latin America. He was honored with a long list of awards and recognitions, including the Distinction of Merit from Colombia’s School of Public Health and “PAHO Public Health Hero.”
His family and friends remember him as a hard-working professional, dedicated to his work and always up-to-date in his field. He was also kind and a true gentleman in his treatment of colleagues, in his manner of address, and his way of solving problems. We will indeed miss him.