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Dr. Mirta Roses, Director, Pan American Health Organization

International Awards

The Manuel Velasco-Suárez Award in Bioethics

"It is our responsibility as health workers to respect human rights and to regard a person's dignity as foremost in the practice of our profession in order to impart quality to life—from its miraculous dawn to its sunset." —Manuel Velasco-Suárez, MD, FACS

Bioethics is an emerging discipline in health with moral implications extending to highly diverse areas. Its principles seek to humanize and mediate the headlong advance of science, technology and global development based on the interaction and dialogue between experts and lay people.

Bioethics, an important dimension of biomedical humanities, has become an aspect of critical importance in the biomedical and social sciences, health care and public health. In May 1994, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) created a regional program in bioethics to meet the demands of the member states for open discussion of many areas that are a continuing source of debate, such as justice and equity in the allocation of health resources, and patients' rights, among others.

The Manuel Velasco-Suárez Award in Bioethics, created in 2002, is one of five awards presented by the Pan American Health and Education Foundation through its Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Public Health Program, a partnership between the Foundation and PAHO.

To stimulate young scholars in the development of their capacities for bioethical analysis, the Secretary of Health in Mexico and the Pan American Health and Education Foundation in cooperation with PAHO created this award to honor Dr. Manuel Velasco-Suárez.

A distinguished jury of specialists in bioethics reviews the candidate's proposed work in bioethics, and recommends a proposal to the board of trustees of the Foundation for final selection. The winner is informed and invited to address and interact with ministers of health of the hemisphere, their delegations and invited guests of PAHO at its annual meeting in Washington DC. The awardee receives a grant of US$10,000, a certificate of honor and a paid trip to Washington DC.

Dr. Velasco-Suárez's legacy continues.

In April 2005, he received posthumous recognition from the National Lottery for Public Assistance of Mexico for his lifetime efforts. His image is portrayed on its World Health Day-focused ticket.