Perspectives in Health Magazine
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A Century of Public Health
PAHO Family Album
Since its founding in 1902, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has been a central part of a century-long pursuit to bring health to all the peoples of the Americas. The world's oldest international health organization, PAHO has a history that is rich with the stories of dedicated individuals who faced major challenges and who, in many cases, achieved remarkable success. This "PAHO Family Album" salutes their valuable work and their accomplishments of 100 years of Pan American efforts in public health.
Dr. Carlos Finlay (1833-1915), a distinguished Cuban physician and student of yellow fever, was one of four members of the 1902 organizing committee charged with setting up the new International Sanitary Bureau (the forerunner to PAHO). Dubbed "the mosquito man" by his critics, Dr. Finlay (on the right) had argued as early as 1881 that the mosquito was the sole vector for yellow fever, but he was unable to prove his theory. When in 1900 Maj. Walter Reed's Yellow Fever Board proved Finlay right, the stage was set for eradication efforts that routed the disease in the Caribbean and allowed completion of the Panama Canal.
Delegates gather at the Fourth International Sanitary Conference, in San José, Costa Rica, in 1910. The conference's agenda covered inter-American cooperation in smallpox vaccination, malaria and tuberculosis control, national health legislation, and tropical disease research. The final document included this timely call: