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“Our goal must be a world in which good health is a pillar of individual well-being, national progress, and international stability and peace. This cannot be achieved without partnerships involving governments, international organizations, the business community, and civil society.”

— Kofi A. Annan, ex-Secretary-General of the United Nations

Rewarding Excellence, Encouraging Leadership... » The Abraham Horwitz Award for Leadership in Inter-American Health 

Pioneer in Veterinary Health Receives Leadership Award

On September 25, 2006, Dr. James H. Steele was presented the prestigious 2006 Abraham Horwitz Award for Leadership in Inter-American Health for his outstanding contributions to veterinary public health in the Western Hemisphere at the 47th Annual Directing Council meeting of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Washington DC. His professional career spans nearly 70 years across the Americas.

Dr. Frederick Naftolin, PAHEF Board member; Dr. Kenneth Moritsugu, Acting US Surgeon General; Mrs.Brigitte Steele; Dr. James Steele, 2006 Horwitz award winner; and Dr.William Stokes, Chief Veterinary Officer U.S. Public Health Service.

This early advocate for the eradication of foot-and-mouth disease in the Americas developed and promoted the concept of diseases affecting animals as also being important to human health. Through his commitment to animal health as it affects human public health, veterinary activities were established at PAHO, the World Health Organization, and the Food and Agricultural Organization. Further, Dr. Steele founded the first veterinary public health program of the US Centers for Disease Control.


Dr. Frederick Naftolin, PAHEF Board member; Dr. James Steele; and Dr. Mirta Roses, PAHO Director.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF), Dr. Frederick Naftolin of the School of Medicine of New York University awarded Dr. Steele a certificate of honor and cash prize during the annual meeting of government public health leaders from the Americas. Dr. Naftolin proudly shared that Dr. Steele served as Assistant Surgeon General for Veterinary Affairs under Presidents Johnson and Nixon for the US Public Health Service (USPHS) where he enjoyed a 26-year career. He then went to the University of Texas in Houston’s School of Public Health from which he retired in 1983. Yet, Professor Steele “continues to teach part-time and to travel worldwide as a lecturer and consultant.” Further, “This mentor of many veterinary public health professionals, some of whom are sitting in this room today, has also been called upon to provide advice on veterinary public health and to investigate zoonotic illness outbreaks worldwide.”

At a luncheon in Dr. Steele’s honor, the foundation’s Executive Director, Ms. Jess Gersky, congratulated Dr. Steele for his leadership in and impact on veterinary public health throughout the Americas. “We are honored to celebrate your accomplishments. Your contributions to public health have helped improve health in the Americas. Our aim is keep the momentum going.” She noted also, “Dr. Steele is a former colleague of the namesake of our veterinary public health award, the late Dr. Pedro Acha whose wife, Juanita, is here today.“ Ms. Gersky concluded by expressing pride in welcoming him as the newest member of our inter-American health family.

The Abraham Horwitz Award for Leadership in Inter-American Health was established to honor Dr. Horwitz, who served as the PAHO director and as PAHEF president for 25 years. Since 1975, the award has recognized 31 leaders whose areas of expertise range from nutrition, to infectious diseases, child safety, urban health, tropical diseases, and the like. These leaders' commitment to inter-American public health stimulates excellence among public health professionals regionwide. This award is one of five awards of the Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Public Health Program, a partnership between PAHEF and PAHO.

Download Dr. James H. Steele's speech (pdf)

Click here to read what The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston has to say about Dr. Steele being recognized by the 2006 Horwitz Award for Leadership in Inter-American Health.