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.