Dr. Maria Fátima de Sousa
On September 27, 2010, the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) presented the new Sérgio Arouca Award for Excellence in Universal Health Care to Dr. Maria Fátima de Sousa.
Dr. Sousa was honored for her role in the creation of Brazil's Basic Health Care Information System, among many other contributions toward improving public health in her country.
The award was presented at a special event in Washington, DC, by Dr. Benjamin Caballero, chair of the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF) board of directors, and Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Dr. Sousa has played a pivotal role in advancing health care in Brazil. From 1991 to 2001, she was national manager of the Community Health Agents Program (PACS), an agency that serves more than 116 million people, 61 percent of Brazil's total population. She supported the creation and implementation of the Network for Permanent Training, Qualification, and Education Centers for Family Health Professionals. Between 2001 and 2003, Dr. Sousa served as an advisor in implementing the Family Heath Strategy in the municipality of São Paulo, a strategy she helped formulate with the goal of making health care more accessible to vulnerable populations. Currently, she is shaping the next generation of Brazilian public health practitioners as an associate professor at the University of Brasília.
Dr. Sousa received US$10,000, a certificate of merit, and a statue trophy.
Dr. Sousa explained the role of the agencies' in bridging Brazil's health care gap, "The Family Health Strategy and the Program for Community Health Agents tread paths to overcoming inequalities in access to universal health care in Brazil."
"Dr. Sousa is an inspiration for public health professionals everywhere. Her exceptional career demonstrates how one person can dramatically affect a nation's health system to better meet the people's health needs—especially those in underserved populations," said Edward L. Kadunc, president of PAHEF.
The Sérgio Arouca Award for Excellence in Universal Health Care was created in 2010 by the Secretary of Health of Brazil and PAHEF, in cooperation with PAHO. The award honors the outstanding legacy of Dr. Sérgio Arouca, a physician, researcher, and professor at Brazil's National School of Public Health who also served as Secretary of Health of Rio de Janeiro and Secretary of Social Participation in Brazil's federal Ministry of Health.
The award recognizes the importance of universal health care and its profound impact on the peoples of the Americas. By influencing change, creating and strengthening health programs, and tirelessly championing the importance of universal health care, awardees bring lasting improvements to their nation's health systems. The award is one of six in the Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Public Health Program.
Health Care - Winners
The Sérgio Arouca Award for Excellence in Universal Health Care
2013 Nomination Period Now Open! Submit a nomination today.
The Sérgio Arouca Award for Excellence in Universal Health Care, created in 2010, acknowledges the importance of universal health care and its impact on the peoples of the Americas. Providing universal health care that guarantees access to quality medical care for all citizens of a country requires a strong underlying structure that delivers services efficiently and equitably. It puts the health of its people first, regardless of an individual's economic or social situation. This award recognizes leaders who have dedicated their efforts to advance, influence, and strengthen universal health-care programs in the region.
One such leader was Dr. Sérgio Arouca, who was a Brazilian national public health professional, physician, scholar, and legislator. Throughout his career, Dr. Arouca supported innovative public health practices and tirelessly championed universal health care, working at the National School of Public Health, as Secretary of Health of Rio de Janeiro, and as Secretary of Social Participation in the Ministry of Health, Brazil. The Secretary of Health in Brazil and the Pan American Health and Education Foundation, in cooperation with the Pan American Health Organization, created this award to honor the outstanding legacy of Dr. Sérgio Arouca.
The award is one of six in the PAHO/PAHEF Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Public Health Program, which was established in 1975.
Sérgio Arouca, MD (1941 - 2003)
Born in Ribeirão Preto in 1941, Antonio Sérgio da Silva Arouca died in 2003 to the profound sadness of friends, admirers, former students, and public officials who recognized in him one of the great thinkers and leaders of health sector reform in Brazil. His work helped to lay the foundation of Brazil's universal health care system.
While he was a teacher, researcher, politician, and man of many roles, it was as a public health professional that Arouca preferred to be known. Arouca became president of Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ) in 1985 after nine years as a professor at the Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública. At FIOCRUZ he began a far-reaching revitalization of the institution. By surrounding himself with emerging leaders that shared an innovative public health mentality, he succeeded in restoring the institution to the prestigious position it had held since its founding.
In 1989, after serving as President of FIOCRUZ, Arouca ran for the vice presidency of the republic on the ticket of Senator Roberto Freire. Although defeated, the two succeeded in making science and technology issues in the presidential campaign.
Sérgio Arouca was first elected as a federal representative in 1990 and returned to the National Congress in 1998 as a federal representative for Rio de Janeiro. In 2003, he assumed what was to be his last public office—Secretary for Participatory Management of the Ministry of Health, under which he called for the holding of the 12th National Health Conference. This was an event he did not live to see, dying several months before it was held.