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A Message from the PAHEF Vice Chair, Harold Hamana, Miami, Florida

The Edelman Global Citizenship Contributions Committee has given me the honor of recognizing my volunteer work, during Volunteer Appreciation Week, with the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF) through an Edelman Community Investment Grant. Furthermore, I have been asked to share with you my experience with this fine organization. As a board member every opportunity to speak about our work is a welcomed opportunity.

 

The timing of this grant could not have been more perfect. On April 7 we celebrated World Health Day and this year we wanted the world to pay attention to vector borne diseases. Diseases like malaria, dengue, chagas, lechmeniasis and river blindness are not getting the attention they deserve, despite the fact that they affect over one billion people every year. 

 

These diseases exacerbate poverty because they are also responsible for 1/6th of the illness and disability suffered worldwide. If you can’t work, you can’t earn; and if you don’t have income you can’t support yourself and your family. In many parts of Latin America clinics and hospitals may be few and far between, so treatment may be delayed or arrive all too late. Aside from the cost to the individual, there is a cost to the state in productivity loss and cost to the healthcare system. 

 

Industry is a valuable partner and trying to address the issue. Many companies are hard at work at developing vaccinations, improving treatments and also creating faster ways to diagnose and identify the different variants of these diseases as well as tracking epidemics and transmission patterns. In the meantime, the only strategies that we have is awareness, education and prevention.

 

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has long been collaborating with the Ministries of Health of all member states in Latin America and the Caribbean, to share best practices, assist in the developing of health strategies and support the implementation of the programs. As wonderful as PAHO and PAHEF are, they cannot do their work without resources. This grant helps put into practice the priority strategies our health experts have devised. In the time I’ve volunteered for PAHEF, I have been impressed by how carefully they will utilize the resources they have.

 

I hope that in a year’s time there will be yet another opportunity to speak to you and update you on how the Edelman Community Grant was used and how the efforts to reduce vector-borne diseases, dengue in particular, has been progressing.

 

Thank you again for this wonderful recognition. I could not be prouder to work for an organization that values the work that my fellow grantees and I do in the community.

 

Harold

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