Our Journey Together
For more than 20 years, I’ve seen philanthropy bring together people from all walks of life—donors and beneficiaries alike—and take them to where they want to go. It’s when we really listen to one another that we are able to understand each other and, thus, map our course successfully to our desired destination. In essence, we become perfect travel companions.
As the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF) navigate toward advanced health in the Americas, no better example of this endeavor exists than the 52nd Session of the PAHO Directing Council held in Washington, DC. Here, the world’s top health professionals received special honors at the 5th Annual PAHO/PAHEF Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Public Health. Known throughout the Americas, these awards are prestigious honors that recognize individuals who have dedicated their careers to improving public health in the Western Hemisphere.
With experience in a wide spectrum of social, ethnic, and geographic settings, this year’s winners are field-tested experts who confront, problem-solve, and, in some instances, overcome great adversity. While a complete listing of 2013 awardees can be viewed at www.paho.org, stand-outs include:
· Dr. Julio Frenk, the former Minister of Health of Mexico, who received the 2013 Abraham Horowitz Award for Excellence in Leadership in Inter-American Public Health. As Mexico’s Secretary of Health from 2000 to 2006, Frenk established Seguro Popular, a social insurance program that created the basis for universal health coverage in Mexico;
· Dr. Alok Kumar of Barbados who received the 2013 Fred L. Soper Award for Excellence in Public Health Literature as lead author for a paper describing the disease characteristics of dengue—a rapidly emerging Caribbean public health problem—in Barbados for the first time ever; and,
· Honored posthumously, Dr. Santiago Renjifo Salcedo who is considered to be the founder of public health education in Colombia. He introduced the concept of public health as mandatory in the medical curriculum, an example that was later followed by other medical schools.
Much like these visionaries, PAHO Director Dr. Carissa Etienne also has a clear understanding of the health challenges facing the Americas and she brings a deep commitment to those affected. As a result of Dr. Entienne’s leadership, the renewed and revitalized affiliation between PAHO and PAHEF for 2014 and beyond will likely usher in a fresh mix of innovative philanthropic, economic, and business strategies that will elevate us to even greater heights.
As interim President and CEO, I couldn’t be more excited or more confident about PAHEF and PAHO’s future as I am today. What ignites my passion for growing our circle of friends, partners and support is what I have experienced firsthand in my first year with PAHEF and that is the trust that exists within and throughout the organization—trust on the part of our donors that others will use the resources wisely for the betterment of a patient, a community, or an urgent health issue and trust on the part of the recipient that the donor acts with sincerity and is willing to listen and understand their needs.
Friends, when we join hands and trust our travel plans and partners, there is no limit to the good we can do together. I invite you to join our journey across the Americas for improving the health of others. Become a companion, a fellow, a partner. I promise you will be in good company.
As always, I invite you to join me in making a year-end gift to the work of PAHEF as well as joining me in giving a planned gift. No other public health organization does as much as PAHO and deserves our support. I also invite you to share your questions or comments and explore the possibilities of further involvement. Gracias. Obrigado/obrigada. Merci. Thanks!
With warm regards,
Eleanor “Elly” Brtva, MPH, CFRE
President and Chief Executive Officer, ai.
Dr. James Steele: Farewell to a leader
The Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) remember with great sadness the passing of Dr. James Steele, on November 10, 2013. Dr. James Steele was awarded the prestigious Abraham Horwitz Award for Excellence in Leadership in Inter-American Public Health in 2006 for his outstanding contributions to veterinary public health.
Funding Opportunity: Dengue Prevention and Control
Title: Project to Strengthening the Integrated Management Strategy for the dengue prevention and control (IMS-Dengue) in the Americas. This is a collaborative effort of PAHO/WHO, to support countries in the Region to fight against this disease.
Goal: To have an updated Dengue Regional Program, competent and effective in the delivery of technical cooperation for the adequate management and control of dengue, with emphasis on the subject matters that make up the IMS-Dengue: Program management, epidemiological surveillance, Integrated Vector Management (IVM), clinical management of cases, environmental health issues, social communication and good laboratory practices for effective diagnosis.
Purpose: To review, update and strengthen all the components of the IMS-Dengue, with special emphasis on upgrade the Dengue Laboratory Network of the Americas (RELDA, for its acronym in Spanish) capacities, in order to develop recommendations for the implementation and monitoring policies and strengthened strategies for the prevention, management and control of the disease, including the possible inclusion of the dengue vaccine as an additional tool, and establishing an adequate impact monitoring.
Place and Time:The benefits obtained and the activities of this project will be developed in all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, through the National Dengue Programs and RELDA. This work will be supported and coordinated by the PAHO/WHO Dengue Regional Program, the WHO Collaborating Centers for Dengue in the Americas, and allied institutions and RELDA members.
Duration: 24 months (October 2013 - September 2015)
Cost: $624,890 total
Two funders: $312,445
Three funders: $208,296.70
You can also support this program via a direct donation. You can donate in several ways:
Need more information? Email us at
Fifth Annual PAHO/PAHEF Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Public Health
WASHINGTON, DC (September 30, 2013) – The fifth annual PAHO/PAHEF Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Public Health honored five distinguished public health leaders from the Western Hemisphere during a special event held at the Organization of American States (OAS) on Sept. 30.
Sponsored by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF), the awards event is held annually to highlight major contributions to public health in areas including leadership, health literature, veterinary public health, and universal health care in the Americas.
The awards event was attended by ministers of health, ambassadors, U.S. government officials, and representatives of organizations, foundations, and advocacy groups. The PAHO/PAHEF Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Public Health took place at the start of the 52nd PAHO Directing Council Meeting, which brings together ministers of health and other high-level health authorities from throughout the Western Hemisphere to set regional health priorities.
The award winners were:
Julio Frenk, MPH, MD, PhD, of Mexico:
A renowned public health leader and prominent spokesperson for the universal health coverage movement, Dr. Frenk received the 2013 Abraham Horwitz Award for Excellence for Leadership in Inter-American Public Health. Among his outstanding contributions, he founded the Public Health Center of Investigation and the National Institute of Public Health in his native Mexico. He served as Executive Director in charge of Evidence and Information for Policy at the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1998. As Mexico’s Secretary of Health from 2000 to 2006, Dr. Frenk established Seguro Popular, a social insurance program that created the basis for universal health coverage in Mexico by guaranteeing coverage for all Mexicans. Since 2009, Dr. Frenk has been the Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health. At Harvard, Dr. Frenk is leading a commission on the education of health professionals in the 21st century.
Said Dr. Frenk: “I feel privileged to receive the prestigious Abraham Horwitz Award, which honors the legacy of one of the most important public health figures in the Americas. It is especially meaningful for me to be recognized by the Pan American Health Organization, an exemplary institution with which I have interacted throughout my entire professional life. Furthermore, I see the Award not as a distinction bestowed upon my personal career, but as an acknowledgment of the accomplishments of public health professionals and researchers in Mexico.”
Alok Kumar, MPH, MD, PhD, of Barbados:
Dr. Kumar received the 2013 Fred L. Soper Award for Excellence in Public Health Literature as lead author for the paper Epidemiological trends and clinical manifestations of dengue among children in one of the English-speaking Caribbean countries. The paper describes the epidemiology and disease characterization of dengue—a rapidly emerging Caribbean public health problem—in Barbados for the first time ever. The paper quantified dengue’s mortality and morbidity rates among children. Dr. Kumar’s background is in infectious diseases, particularly in the transmission, prevention, and treatment of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. He is currently studying serious bacterial infection in children with sickle cell disease and dengue virus infection in otherwise healthy children and those with sickle cell disease. He teaches and conducts research at the University of the West Indies in Barbados.
Dr. Kumar commented: “This recognition is a huge encouragement for me and for my collaborating colleagues to continue to work sincerely and relentlessly to contribute in a significant way to the improvement of the health of our children.”
Veronika Haydee Merino Osorio, DVM, of Peru:
The recipient of the 2013 Pedro N. Acha Award for Excellence in Veterinary Public Health, Dr. Merino Osorio was honored for her outstanding research paper based on her undergraduate thesis, “Detection of Echinococcus granulosus coproantigens on canine pets of workers of slaughterhouses and offal distributors in Metropolitan Lima.” Her thesis was inspired during her clinical rotation at the National Children’s Hospital in Lima, Peru, where she studied the high incidence of young children with hydatid cysts. Dr. Merino Osorio graduated third in her class in 2011 from the School of Veterinary Medicine and Zootechnology of the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima with a doctorate in veterinary medicine. There, Dr. Osorio is currently an adjunct assistant professor who encourages her students to pursue public health issues. Dr. Merino Osorio has small-animal surgical and equine health and dairy cattle experience, having completed considerable pre-professional training in the United States and Peru. Dr. Merino Osorio also trained at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C, in the field of zoological medicine.
Said Dr. Merino Osorio: “It is an honor to receive the 2013 Pedro N. Acha Award for Excellence in Veterinary Public Health recognizing our effort in revealing a serious public health issue in our country that needs to be taken in consideration by the authorities.”
José Lima Pedreira de Freitas, MD, MPH, of Brazil and Santiago Renjifo Salcedo, MD, MPH of Colombia:
In memoriam, both Dr. Pedreira de Freitas and Dr. Renjifo Salcedo received the Sérgio Arouca Award for Excellence in Universal Health Care for their impact on health professionals and programs on social and community medicine. The sons of both awardees accepted the award on behalf of their fathers. In their short lives, Drs. Pedreira de Freitas and Renjifo Salcedo were key figures in developing public health in Brazil and Colombia. In 1954, Dr. Pedreira de Freitas established one of the first schools of medicine in the country, the Department of Social Medicine of the Ribeirão Preto Medical School, University of São Paulo. He also made important contributions to the study of disease transmission, especially Chagas transmission. A long-time teacher, Dr. Pedreira de Freitas influenced many health professionals, including Sérgio Arouca himself, then a young medical student at Ribeirão Preto. Dr. Pedreira de Freitas died in 1966.
“I feel that what this tribute would mean to my father is a sense of accomplishment: much less for the honor, which he would surely appreciate, but rather for the chance to share with his partners the enthusiasm that the prize would bring to everyone. Especially since Professor Arouca himself was motivated by my father to enroll in the paths of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. He once said, ‘Thanks to the strong influence of a charismatic teacher named José Lima Pedreira de Freitas, I developed a passion for preventive medicine.’ So concluding, the significance of this tribute for me is the assertion of my father´s presence among us. And to my father, it would mean an assertion that his enthusiasm and leadership were fruitful in an exemplary manner,” said Dr. Carlos Alberto Pedreira de Freitas, himself a pediatrician and Doctor of Public Health, when accepting the award on behalf of his father.
The award was also bestowed upon Dr. Santiago Renjifo Salcedo, considered by many as the founder of public health education in Colombia. He introduced the concept of public health as mandatory in the medical curriculum at the Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia, establishing it as equal in importance to basic and clinical sciences. This example was later followed by other medical schools in the country. Additionally, Dr. Renjifo was advisor to the World Health Organization in Africa and Latin America. As Director of the Ministry of Health of Colombia’s Roberto Franco de Villavicencio Institute of Tropical Medicine, he studied emerging tropical diseases. An adventurer, he visited many inhospitable areas of the world and was a member of the first expedition to the Sierra de La Macarena— unchartered territory at that time—in search of a cure for yellow fever. Dr. Renjifo Salcedo died in 1966.
“For each of the children, the grandchildren and close friends, this has been something exciting, important and honorable. The day our brother shared the letters sent by you, we felt like it was a birthday. Our biggest celebration is that after all these years, our father was still being recognized. He is a worthy example of continued contributions to humanity in any field always with the conviction that the work and dedication will help others in this world,” said the children of Dr. Renjifo, who were present at the ceremony. Dr. Boris Renjifo, himself a public health researcher in HIV and director of medical affairs in Asia and Africa for HIV at ABBVIE, accepted the posthumous award on behalf of his father.
The Department of Social Medicine at the Ribeirão Preto Medical School of the University of São Paulo and the School of Public Health of the Universidad del Valle, established by the winners in their respective countries, also received certificates for their far-reaching impact on health professionals and programs of social and community medicine.
The Ribeirão Preto Medical School, University of São Paulo commented: “The faculty and staff of the Department of Social Medicine of the Ribeirão Preto Medical School, University of São Paulo, express great satisfaction in having its founder be awarded the 2013 Sérgio Arouca Award for Excellence in International Health. The award recognizes the outstanding work of Professor José Lima Pedreira de Freitas as a pioneer in teaching preventive medicine in Brazil, as well as his extraordinary contribution to the knowledge of Chagas disease and its effective control in the country. This award will certainly stimulate the department’s faculty to continue its action based on the lessons left by Professor Pedreira de Freitas.”
Dr. Fabián Méndez Paz, Director of the School of Public Health, University del Valle said: “Dr. Renjifo’s legacy continues to inspire future generations through his emphasis on working in the communities one serves and his philosophy of being close to one’s patients, now a key component of public health education at our school. This award is of special significance for us not only because it keeps his vision alive and provides a posthumous homage to him, but also because we are on the cusp of celebrating the school’s 60th anniversary. For the School of Public Health at the University del Valle, and for me, it is an honor to receive this recognition in his name for the life and work of Dr. Santiago Renjifo Salcedo.”
For more than 30 years, PAHEF has recognized and awarded individuals who have dedicated their lives to advancing public health and health care in the Americas. Additional information regarding the day’s activities, including the 52nd annual PAHO Directing Council Meeting and the awards event, can be found at: http://www.pahef.org/en/
"The PAHO/PAHEF Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Public Health are an inspiring and motivating start to a week dedicated to public health excellence,” said Eleanor “Elly” Brtva, MPH, CFRE, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Philanthropy Officer of PAHEF. “Also anchored by the PAHO Directing Council Meeting, this exciting week is focused on bringing together public health leaders to improve the health of all populations in the Western Hemisphere.”
Funding Opportunity: 2013 Influenza Initiative
$250,000 (includes a small unrestricted gift for PAHEF project administration)
In 2005, PAHO in collaboration with the U.S. CDC developed the Generic Protocol for Influenza Surveillance. This protocol promoted the use of syndromic respiratory disease surveillance (for ambulatory cases, influenza-like-illness [ILI] and for hospitalized cases, severe acute respiratory infection [SARI]) coupled with laboratory testing for influenza, as a means to achieve the primary objectives of influenza surveillance. Since this time, this protocol has been adopted throughout the Americas region as well as used as a template for influenza surveillance worldwide.
PAHO is also working with countries to generate much needed influenza burden of disease estimates as well as describe patterns of influenza circulation (e.g. describe patterns of influenza type B Yamagata and Victoria lineage circulation).
Objectives of the Project include:
This proposal requests, at minimum, an investment of $234,788.01 (US dollars) to provide a critical laboratory surveillance and networks of influenza in Latin America and the Caribbean.
You can also support this program via a direct donation. You can donate in several ways:
Need more information? Email us at
or call 202-974-3845.
Come Join Our Journey
It’s been a month since PAHEF asked me to step in as Interim President and Chief Executive Officer, and I have already absorbed so much from our volunteers, donors, staff, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) colleagues, and public health educators throughout the Americas. The diversity and breadth of our collective experiences are what make PAHEF an impactful organization. Thank you for entrusting me with this role as I help leverage these strengths. I still have so much to learn from you all as we move forward.
As PAHEF celebrates its 45th anniversary on July 22nd, I ask you to reflect on what experiences in your life brought you take interest in PAHEF. Where were you 45 years ago? My path to PAHEF started out in an unlikely place: Joliet, Illinois. Known for its prison on the east side of town, Joliet was where I grew up, dreaming of being an EKG technician, a French translator, a medical illustrator, nursing home administrator and then into the world of non-profit and philanthropy.
Although my career aspirations weren’t consistent back then, my family and my neighborhood best friend, Elizabeth, whose family is from Mexico, was indeed a constant. With their support, I dedicated my life after graduate school to philanthropy. I worked hard at connecting donors to causes passionate about improving public health: community-based programs, suicide prevention, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes. Each experience had offered its lessons to me.
Fast forward to 2012 when I joined PAHEF. Impressed by its mission to improve health throughout the Americas and its connection to PAHO, the regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO), I hit the ground running as Vice President and Chief Philanthropy Officer. Like me, PAHEF has gone through many changes throughout the years. However, also like me, PAHEF’s past experiences has only made it stronger. Today more than ever, PAHEF is best suited to build philanthropic support for our colleagues at PAHO.
But I am only one story. Our dedicated volunteers and colleagues contribute their own experiences—knowledge from the field—to solving problems in the Americas. They have seen firsthand the devastation of inadequate resources. Each year, we establish initiatives that help will help them directly improve the public health of the Americas. We can only do this with your help. Your philanthropic contributions will provide the resources our team members need.
It is with renewed energy and commitment that I ask our friends—private partners, individuals, foundations and corporations—to consider their journey to PAHEF. What experiences and strengths can you contribute to make our mission possible?
Eleanor “Elly” Brtva, MPH, CFRE
Interim President and CEO
International Journal of Obesity Guest-Edited by PAHEF Board Members
Just ahead of PACO III, the Third Pan American Conference on Obesity, in Aruba (June 6-8), a special International Journal of Obesity Supplement – guest-edited by PAHEF board members Dr. Rafael Pérez-Escamilla and Dr. Gilberto Kac – has been published.
The supplement is titled "Preventing Childhood Obesity in the Americas: The Life-Course Framework" (Volume 3, Issue S1, June 2013).
PACO III: Training Capacity & the Obesity Epidemic
PAHEF will be holding a special workshop addressing the obesity epidemic in the Americas during PACO III, the Third Pan American Conference on Obesity next month.
Current and former PAHEF Board Members, Professors Gilberto Kac (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), Rafael Pérez-Escamilla (Yale) and Fernando Mendoza (Stanford) will each be leading a session during the workshop.
PAHEF received a preview of what to expect from each of the workshop organizers:
“Malaria Champions of the Americas” Contest Opens
World Malaria Day
“Malaria Champions of the Americas” contest seeks best practices that integrate other health solutions
Media Advisory from the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization