The Uru Chipaya Ethnic Group of the Oruro Department of Bolivia received the 2011 Pan Ameri-can Health Organization (PAHO) Immunization Award for their activities to keep immunization coverage close to 100% in their area. The group was presented with a certificate of recognition, as well as a monetary gift in the amount of three thousand US dollars at the twentieth Meeting of PAHO’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Vaccine-preventable Diseases on 17 October 2012 in Washington, D.C (article in this issue of the GIN). PAHO created the Immunization Award to recognize outstanding contributions to a national immuniza-tion programme and to the control and/or elimination of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Despite extreme poverty conditions, marginalization and inequity, the Uru Chipaya Ethnic Group of Bolivia made extraordinary contributions in the control and elimination of vaccine-preventable diseases. In the last 15 years, the municipality reached more than 95% vaccination coverage, even reaching 100% coverage in some years. Since 2000, the community no longer has confirmed cases of measles, rubella or neonatal tetanus, in addition to other vaccine-preventable diseases, such as polio and diphtheria, which have not occurred in 24 years.
Their achievements were made possible by making immunization and health promotion a top pri-ority. In 2001, the community put nearly 60% of its financial resources into health, education and basic hygiene. The group established and maintained a strong alliance with the community, indige-nous authorities and health personnel. Other activities to increase success in health included the development and use of creative tactics to prevent morbidity and mortality in the community; ensuring vaccination completion for teenagers, senior citizens and migrant groups; increasing vac-cination hours and; promoting health in schools.