Inter-American Leadership Award Bestowed Upon Chilean Chronic Disease Expert

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WASHINGTON, D.C. Oct. 1 — A visionary leader, Dr. Maria Cristina Escobar Fritzsche of Chile, received high-level recognition for her outstanding contributions to the prevention and control of chronic diseases in the Americas during the 27th Pan American Sanitary Conference proceedings today. The Abraham Horwitz Award for Leadership in Inter-American Health is bestowed upon creative leaders whose commitment to public health stimulates excellence among their peers, staff, and other public health professionals and whose leadership has an impact beyond their borders and throughout the Americas.

Dr. Frederick Naftolin, a trustee of the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF), presented the prestigious award to Dr. Escobar before an esteemed audience of ministers of health and other dignitaries. Dr. Naftolin noted that she played a pivotal role in the organization of a stellar initiative for health promotion and prevention of chronic diseases in Chile and its expansion across the Americas. He also said, "Dr. Escobar has contributed innovations in monitoring the quality of care for chronic conditions in Chile. These successful examples have sparked quality of care improvement throughout Latin America."

Earlier today, the foundation's Executive Director, Ms. Jess Gersky, also congratulated Dr. Escobar during a luncheon in her honor. "It is fitting that an expert in chronic diseases and healthy aging would be honored today. It is becoming apparent that chronic diseases are a major problem, not just in high-income countries, but in the developing world. Worldwide four chronic conditions: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory diseases are responsible for approximately 60% of all deaths. The social and economic impacts of chronic disease are felt at many levels. They burden the health care system, reduce economic productivity, and take their toll on family members who must assume the role of caregivers. In Latin America, the burden of chronic disease is further compounded by its occurrence earlier among adults of working age and by the growing numbers of older adults." In bestowing this award, Ms. Gersky noted that healthy aging, childhood obesity and chronic diseases are priority programmatic areas of the foundation.

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 32 leaders whose areas of expertise range from veterinary public health, nutrition, to infectious diseases, child safety, urban health, tropical diseases, and the like. This award is one of five awards of the Awards for Excellence in Inter- American Public Health Program, a partnership between PAHEF and the Pan American Health Organization.

Download Dr. Maria Cristina Escobar's speech (pdf)

 
 

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Dr. Fred Naftolin, Dr. Mirtha Roses, Dr. Maria Cristina Escobar and Dr. Soledad Barria. Photo courtesy: Mauricio Azoulay

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