August 19th 2006
Football "Soccer" Star Ronaldinho honored as PAHO Champion of Health
Ronaldinho Gaucho and PAHO Deputy Director, Dr. Joxel Garc╠a
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) today honored Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho for his humanitarian contributions and support of the Organization's initiatives to increase vaccination coverage throughout the Americas with Vaccination Week in the Americas, and to reduce youth violence through awareness campaigns.
Ronaldinho Gaucho, whose real name is Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, received the PAHO "Champion of Health" award from Deputy Director Dr. Joxel Garc╠a at a ceremony in New York today.
"This is a powerful combination between the oldest public health organization in the world and the best soccer player in the world," Dr. Garc╠a said. "He is now a champion of health and will help us with these two important programs, vaccinating people throughout the Americas and working to prevent youth violence, which are key to the social, structural and economic development of our countries," he added.
Ronaldinho said he was honored and thanked PAHO for giving him the opportunity to spread health messages to the people of the Americas. The soccer star for the FC Barcelona team has done public service announcements promoting Vaccination Week in the Americas, held in every country in the Americas in late April, and Youth Violence Prevention, using his appeal to soccer fans worldwide to promote health. The messages can be seen on the PAHO web site and have been distributed to television stations and networks.
"We are proud to have Ronaldinho in our corner in the effort to bring the benefits of vaccination to all children in the Americas so we can continue to save lives and prevent disease through strong national immunization programs," said Dr. Jon Andrus, who heads PAHO's immunization unit. "Although more than 90 percent of children now get routine vaccinations, there are still underserved areas we must reach and our rubella elimination campaign must completed," he added.
The Pan American Health Organization, based in Washington D.C., works with all the countries of the Western Hemisphere to improve the health and living standards of their peoples. Vaccination campaigns have succeeded in eradicating smallpox and polio from the region, measles transmission has been eliminated, and rubella elimination is now under way.
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