The Director of the Pan American Health Organization, Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, named Dr. José Roberto Ferreira, a Brazilian physician, a Public Health Hero of the Americas for his invaluable contributions to public health in the Hemisphere.
Over the years, the Public Health Hero Award has been conferred on distinguished individuals who have done outstanding work to improve the health and well-being of the peoples of the Americas.
During an official ceremony at the headquarters of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), attended by national officials from the health sector and other distinguished guests, Dr. Roses Periago recognized Dr. Ferreira for his excellent professional career with over 50 years of fruitful efforts in the service of public health.
Dr. Ferreira was a surgeon during his professional life, working in that capacity until 1966. During that time, he published a widely used textbook on the pre- and post- operative situation of patients. In Brazil, he held positions in the health sector related to planning, organization, and administration in medical education. During his tenure, major medical schools and hospitals were opened in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Londrina, Campos, Niteroi, and Brasilia.
Dr. Ferreira began his international career in 1969, when he joined PAHO. There, he coordinated the Department of Human Resources Development, launching public health programs that emphasized aspects related to development, research coordination, and international technical cooperation with the Member States of the Region. In 1974, he accompanied the first mission of the World Health Organization to visit and learn about the health services system in the People's Republic of China.
Dr. Ferreira has been the recipient of numerous national and international awards during his professional career, among them the Oswaldo Cruz Gold Medal of the Ministry of Health of Brazil and honorary professorships at the following academic institutions: the Cayetano Heredia Peruvian University; the FIOCRUZ National School of Public Health; the University of Sucre, Bolivia; and the University of Brasilia.
For 20 years during his career as an educator and researcher, Dr. Ferreira was head of the journal Educación Médica y Salud [Medical Education and Health].
Dr. Ferreira joins a distinguished roster of 11 select individuals named during the PAHO Centennial held on 2 December 2002--men and women who have worked or continue working to promote Health in the Americas.
Dr. Mirta Roses, FIOCRUZ President Dr. Paulo Gadelha, Dr. José Roberto Ferreira and Dr. José Gomes Temporão, Brazilian Minister of Health. (Photos Peter Ilicciev/FIOCRUZ)