May 2009

Meet Our Featured Guest Columnist:
Dr. Ciro de Quadros

is Director of International Programs at the Sabin Vaccine Institute. At the Pan American Health Organization, he led the successful campaign eradicate poliomyelitis from the Americas.

Q: What does "health and human rights" mean to you?

A: Health is a human right in the sense that it is a global public health good and has to be attained by all individuals.

Q: How/why did you get involved in global health issues?

A: I started my professional life as a physician in charge of a health center in the Amazon Region of Brazil and from there, after obtaining a public health degree joined the WHO Smallpox Eradication Program and after this disease was eradicated I moved to PAHO to direct the Expanded Program of Immunization for the Americas.

Q: Why was the approach used in Health as a Bridge for Peace so effective?

A: It brought together public health officials from all Central American countries some at that time at civil wars or at war with each other. During these periodic meetings in which common health problems were discussed and required joint solutions allowed them to thrust each other and move on with other issues as well.

Q: Describe some of the successes you have seen in your work on Health as a Bridge for Peace.

A: The most extraordinary success of the initiative was the accomplishment of polio eradication, which was only possible because of the joint work of all countries!

Q: What are some of the challenges in preventing infectious disease, worldwide?

A: The obstacles posed by war and civil disturbances is a major problem that will need to be overcome if progress in thisarea is to be overcome. The organization of surveillance systems able to early detection of these diseases will also be of paramount importance. Investments in research and development for new and/or improved vaccines and other preventive measures need to be increased. Finally, collaboration amongst all countries will be essential.

Q: How can young people make a difference?

A: By becoming aware of the issues outlined above and according to their ability and professional interest become active advocates of policies and measures that will enable the implementation of measures that will address these issues  more effectively.