Washington, D.C. 26 September 2022 (PAHO/WHO) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has recognized the late epidemiologist Ms. Carla Gabriela Romero Pérez, from Bolivia, for her service by presenting her with the PAHO Award for Health Services Management and Leadership. The recognition was made at the 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference, a gathering of health leaders from around the Region of the Americas.
Following Ms. Romero Pérez’s untimely death in October 2021, Hector Arce Zaconeta, Ambassador of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the Organization of American States (OAS), received the award in her honour.
Ms. Romero Pérez worked at Bolivia’s Ministry of Health and oversaw vector control programs. She was one of the founders of Bolivia’s “Week against Mosquitos” and a tireless educator on the dangers of vector-borne diseases.
Conferring this year’s honour, the President of the 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference, Michael Pearson, Branch Head for the Office of International Affairs for the Health Portfolio at Canada’s Public Health Agency, recognized the tireless work of Ms. Romero Pérez to strengthen efforts to combat arboviruses. He cited Ms. Perez Romero’s role as manager of Bolivia’s dengue, chikungunya, and Zika prevention and control programs, and highlighted her leadership in containing the dengue epidemic in the northern region of the Department of La Paz in 2018.
The President also praised her efforts to include messages on the prevention and control of Aedes aegypti mosquitos in the school curriculum, as well as her support in distributing the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine throughout Bolivia.
Ms. Romero Pérez was a trained biologist and held various degrees and diplomas from the Universidad Mayor de San Simón and the Universidad Nuestra Señora de La Paz, as well as a Master’s degree in Biological and Biomedical Sciences from the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in Bolivia.
As head of the dengue, chikungunya and Zika prevention and control program, she established the arboviruses laboratory network, which counts with 15 municipal and departmental laboratories and two national reference laboratories.
“It is with great honor that I receive this recognition on behalf of Bolivia, on behalf of the health workers in my country - these “angels in white” as we call them, and on behalf of this great professional, Ambassador Arce Zaconeta said.
Established in 1969, the PAHO Award for Health Services Management and Leadership is a recognition by the governments of the Americas to outstanding contributions to improve health systems and services, and to programs, projects or initiatives with proven effects on access to health care at the national or regional level, among others.
Previous winners include Dr. Joanne Liu of Canada, Dr. Reina Roa Rodriguez of Panama, Dr. Natalia Largaespada Beer of Belize, Dr. Stella Bolaños Varela of Costa Rica and Dr Pastor Castell-Florit Serrate of Cuba.