Several distinguished public health leaders and organizations were honored last night during the fourth annual Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Public Health. The awards, sponsored by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF), are held annually to recognize contributions in leadership, health literature, voluntary service, bioethics, veterinary public health, and universal health care in the Americas.
Last night’s event, held at the Organization of American States (OAS) Hall of the Americas, was attended by ministers of health, ambassadors, U.S. government officials, and representatives of organizations, foundations, advocacy groups, and private industry. The event took place concurrently with the 28th Pan American Sanitary Conference, which brings together ministers of health and other high-level health authorities from throughout the Western Hemisphere to set regional health priorities.
The winners of the 2012 Awards for Excellence in Public Health were:
Dr. Paulo Marchiori Buss, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil
Dr. Buss received the 2012 Abraham Horwitz Award for Excellence in Leadership in Inter-American Public Health in recognition of his lifetime commitment to public health, advocating for and addressing the social determinants of health (SDH) and health inequalities. He has played a pivotal role in the creation of an interactive and progressive public health culture in Brazil as well as regionally and globally. His support of efforts to address health inequities in the Americas and his role in supporting technical cooperation among countries on SDH, health promotion, sustainable development, and public health policy have had a profound influence in regional representation and participation in the global public health arena.
Dr. Juan Alberto Lecaros Urzúa, Universidad del Desarrollo, Santiago, Chile
Dr. Urzúa received the 2012 Manuel Velasco Suárez Award for Excellence in Bioethics for his proposal A theoretical framework and a methodology for the application of principles of environmental bioethics. The proposal presents a framework and methodology to be used in the current debate in Chile regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs), focusing on genetically modified (GM) crops and foods. His project seeks to consider the human health, ecological, and socio-economic risks of GMOs. This analysis is potentially useful to other Latin American countries that have not yet defined their national policies on GM crops and foods.
Popular Education in Health Foundation, Chile
The Popular Education in Health Foundation (Fundación Educación Popular en Salud, EPES) received the 2012 Clarence H. Moore Award for Excellence for Voluntary Service. Since 1982, EPES has actively worked to improve the quality and fairness of health care for the poor. Over three decades, the organization has become a leader in the communities it serves, focusing on reproductive and sexual health and rights, erradication of gender violence, HIV/AIDS, tobacco control, nutrition, and community mental health. Today, EPES works with individuals, particularly women, and communities to identify the root causes of illness and fight for improved conditions and services, through education, empowerment, and mobilization.
Dr. Debora Diniz, University of Brasília, Brazil
Lead author Dr. Lovadino de Lima received the 2012 Fred L. Soper Award for Excellence in Public Health Literature for the article “Abortion in Brazil: A household survey using the ballot box technique.” The article presents the initial results of the National Abortion Survey (Pesquisa Nacional de Aborto, PNA), a national household survey of urban women in Brazil aged 18 to 39, conducted in 2010. Two techniques were used for the PNA: interviewer-administered questionnaires and self-administered ballot box questionnaires. Based on the results, Dr. Diniz and Dr. Marcelo Medeiros were able to demonstrate that one in five women has had an abortion by the end of her reproductive years, with no significant differences among religious groups, providing important evidence about the prevalence of abortion in Brazil. The article has implications for the design of public health policies, brings attention to the broader political debate on the negative consequences of criminalizing abortion, and stimulates a research agenda. The article also raises awareness on abortion as a public health issue, due to unsafe abortion methods, which often lead to hospitalization.
The winner of the 2012 PAHO Award for administration was:
Dr. Aron Nowinski, Uruguay
Dr. Aron Nowinksi, currently professor emeritus at the National Medical School of Uruguay, will receive the PAHO Award for Administration 2012. The award honors his contributions to the promotion of public health and health services administration, his extensive public health teaching career, his work to systematize and disseminate medical information, his role in catalyzing the development of the major guidelines for the creation of the National Integrated Health System, his leadership in the development of the strategy for the Latin American Network for Health Sciences Information and the Program for Selective Dissemination of Information (both aimed at supporting priority health programs in the Americas), and his contribution to the production of the Latin American Index Medicus.
In addition to the awards, three special honors were presented:
- PAHO recognized the American Public Health Association (APHA) for its 140 years of public health advocacy in the United States.
- PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses Periago was honored by the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases of the Sabin Vaccine Institute for her leadership in efforts to combat diseases of poverty in the Americas.
- PAHEF recognized Dr. Roses for her support of the partnership between PAHO and PAHEF in joint initiatives including the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program of the Americas, the commemoration of International Women’s Day and World Health Day; and the recognition of Malaria Champions of the Americas.
The PAHO/PAHEF Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Public Health, established in 1975, honor dedicated professionals who led the way in advancing health conditions in the Americas during the last century. The awards stimulate the growth of the next and rising generation of leaders working together to improve health and health care in the Americas.