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Mariana Sanmartino, Liliana Crocco, Argentina

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The Fred L. Soper Award for 2001 has gone to two Argentine researchers, Mariana Sanmartino and Liliana Crocco, for an article on Chagas' disease that appeared in the March 2000 issue of the Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública/Pan American Journal of Public Health, the monthly public health journal published by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). The award was made by the Pan American Health and Education Foundation, which is a nonprofit partner of PAHO. First granted in 1990, the Fred L. Soper Award recognizes excellence in medical and public health research and writing in the Region of the Americas.

Sanmartino and Crocco received award certificates and a cash prize of US$2,500.

This is the first time that an article published in the PAHO Revista/Journal has won the Soper Award, but articles that were carried in the Boletín de la Oficina Sanitaria Panamericana, a predecessor of the Revista/Journal, won the Soper Award in 1991 and in 1997.

Download Article: " Conocimientos sobre la enfermedad de Chagas y factores de riesgo en comunidades epidemiológicamente diferentes de Argentina." Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública, 7(3), 2000. (pdf)

Juan A. Rivera et al., Mexico

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The Pan American Health and Education Foundation, a US-based, nonprofit partner of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) awarded researchers from the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico the Fred L. Soper Award for their significant research showing a rapid increase of non-communicable chronic diseases and obesity in Mexico (Public Health Nutrition, 5:1A, 113-122, 2002).

2Soper2003Dr. Joaquín Molina Leza, PAHO/WHO Representative presented the award to the principal author, Dr. Juan Rivera Dommarco, director of the Research Center in Nutrition and Health of the National Institute of Public Health, and his colleagues Dr. Simón Barquera, Dr. Fabricio Campirano, Dr. Ismael Campos, Dr. Margarita Safdie, and Dr. Víctor Tovar.

The results of this award-winning research suggest that obesity contributed to the increase in mortality due to diabetes, acute myocardial infarction, and hypertension during 1988-1999. Further, the research showed that fat intake and the purchase of refined carbohydrates (e.g., soda) also rose during the same time period, suggesting that they also may be risk factors for the increased mortality. Based on their findings, the researchers recommend that actions should be implemented to prevent obesity, and an analysis of reliable information about food consumption and physical activity be conducted to determine their specific roles in the development of obesity.

3Soper2003Dr. Soper inaugurated the modern era of PAHO, and oversaw its integration with the World Health Organization. He served as PAHO Director from 1947 to 1959. He published more than a hundred works in medical and public health journals through-out the world. The award consisted of a certificate of honor and US$2,500. It aims to stimulate excellence in medical and public health research.

Download Article: " Epidemiological and Nutritional Transition in Mexico: Rapid increase of non-communicable chronic diseases and obesity." Public Health Nutrition (51a), 113-122, 2002 (pdf)

Dr. Mario Rodríguez et al.

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On behalf of the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF), Dr. Jacobo Finkelman, presented the 2005 Award for Excellence in Health Literature to Dr. Mario Rodriguez Pérez, principal author of the winning article: "Polymerase chain reaction monitoring of transmission of Onchocerca volvulus in two endemic states in Mexico".This research on onchocerciasis (river blindness) was carried out in seven endemic communities of the States of Chiapas and Oaxaca in the south of the country. Dr. Finkelman is the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) interim representative in Mexico.

The ceremony took place on April 5, 2006, at the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico City. During the award ceremony, Dr. Finkelman congratulated Dr. Mario Rodriguez Pérez and his colleagues for their exceptional contribution to the health literature. Dr. Finkelman pointed out that "the researchers are leaders in the control of this infectious disease in Mexico and their research paper is priceless information for the rest of the countries in Latin America." Dr. Rodriguez thanked PAHEF and PAHO for this recognition.

The article was published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in January 2004. It presents the polymerase chain reaction technique to carry out effective and fast monitoring of the transmission of the parasite causing river blindness. These results have significant implications in the fight against river blindness in the Americas for clinicians, public health officials, and public health policies.

Jaime Bayona-García et al.

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On behalf of the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization representative in Peru presented the 2004 Fred L. Soper Award for Excellence in Health Literature to the authors of the winning article on multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) in metropolitan Lima. The award ceremony was held on March 14 at the PAHO/WHO Representative offices in Lima.

2004Soper2Dr. German Perdono congratulated Dr. Jaime Bayona-Garcia, the article's principal author, and his research colleagues for their exceptional contributions they made as leaders and researchers in infectious-disease control in Latin America. Dr. Bayona thanked PAHEF and PAHO for recognizing the investigation that addresses TB, one of the major health problems in the Americas.

The article: "Contact investigation as a means of detection and timely treatment of persons with infectious multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis", International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases 2003:7(12):S501-509, reports that individualized approach to TB therapy yielded the best results, and provides well-founded recommendations for the prevention and treatment of multidrug resistant TB. These findings have significant implications for clinicians and policymakers wherever drug resistant TB is a major problem.

The lead author, Dr. Bayona, is a surgeon who received his medical degree from the School of Medicine at the National University of Trujillo and a master's degree in public health at the Joint Centre for Public Health Studies of the Medical School of the University of Wales. He has broad experience in public health and epidemiology, especially as they apply to tuberculosis treatment and control.

The award is named in honor of Dr. Fred L. Soper who inaugurated the modern era of PAHO, and oversaw its integration with the World Health Organization. He served as PAHO Director from 1947 to 1959. It aims to stimulate excellence in medical and public health research.

Download the article(pdf)

Dr. Mauricio Barreto et al.

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In November 2008 in Brazil, on behalf of the Pan American Health and Education Foundation and the Brazil office of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Rubén Figueroa presented the 2008 Fred L. Soper Award for Excellence in Health Literature to Dr. Mauricio Barreto and his colleagues for their peer-reviewed journal article entitled "Effect of city-wide sanitation programme on reduction in rate of childhood diarrhea in northeast Brazil: assessment by two cohort studies" Lancet. November 2007; 370(9599):1622-8 .

8aEXPOEPIPanelwebready2The award ceremony was held during the closing session of the 8th National Exhibition of Successful Experiences in Diseases Epidemiology, Prevention and Control known in Brazil as 8ª EXPOEPI (Mostra Nacional de Experiências Bem-Sucedidas em Epidemiologia, Prevenção e Controle de Doenças). This annual event is organized by the Secretariat of Health Surveillance of the Ministry of Health of Brazil, and highlights presentations and discussions on on the use of epidemiology in the surveillance services of the Unified Health System (SUS). Around 2200 national and international health officials attended the event. Some notable health authorities at the award ceremony included among others, Dr. Gerson Penna, Secretary of Health Surveillance/Ministry of Health; Dr. Antonio Alves de Souza, Secretary of Strategic and Participatory Management/Ministry of Health; and Dr. Rubén Figueroa, coordinator of the technical unit for communicable disease surveillance, prevention, and control in the Brazil office of PAHO (the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization).

The winning article addressed the impact of city-wide implementation of a sanitation program (extension of the sewerage network and investments in potable water supply, solid waste management, and institutional capacity) on diarrhea among children in Salvador, Brazil. After adjustment for baseline sewerage coverage and other potential confounders, the researchers found the prevalence rate of childhood diarrhea in Salvador was reduced significantly (by 22% citywide), particularly significant in areas of high prevalence at baseline (by 43%). The 43% reduction among children living in high prevalence areas at baseline was fully explained by the improvements in sewerage coverage. It also showed that children living in areas with connections to the sewer system at baseline did not benefit. The results show policy makers the need to invest in sanitation systems and to improve access to clean water supplies.

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