Uniting for Health Innovation Debuts: After 50 Years of Service, PAHO Foundation Refreshes to Deliver Health Solutions for the 21st Century
By Jennie Ward-Robinson, PhD, President & CEO, Uniting for Health Innovation
As we near the end of the first decade of the 21st century, we can clearly see that while a host of medical triumphs have led to longer, healthier lives, there is certainly much work to be done. Illnesses like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease seem to be unstoppable. We are not prepared to face potential influenza pandemics, bioterrorism, or infectious diseases like Ebola which can be unexpected, incurable, and unusual in many aspects of their transmission. The problems are compounded by a world seemingly smaller than ever where people from all cultures can quickly spread emerging viruses around the world in not months or days but just hours. And addressing all of this is a health care landscape crowded with multiple organizations individually addressing the same challenges which unnecessarily slows the unfolding of much needed solutions.
Enter Uniting for Health Innovation (UfHI), designed to take a new approach in solving complex health challenges in the Americas. UfHI builds upon the 50 years of work as PAHO Foundation, the region’s premiere philanthropic health organization working to stem a wide range of public health threats. UfHI is an independent, nonprofit organization that unites government, industry, and local communities in the Americas to advance innovation in public health. We believe that improving public health outcomes requires bringing different voices – both traditional and nontraditional – to the conversation, and for 50 years we have been doing just that. Through our work addressing issues like the Zika virus and River Blindness we realized that health challenges today are unlike those of 40 years ago and require a new and different approach. Not only are issues more intertwined, but resources are more constrained. Governments struggle to manage health threats and chronic diseases which results in tradeoffs.
As a result, we restructured PAHO Foundation so that it is better positioned to address today’s complex and diverse health challenges. Unlike most organizations, UfHI is unique because it approaches health threats not individually but with input from stakeholders across a wide spectrum of the community. UfHI convenes thought leaders and technical experts from academia and a variety of industries, officials from multiple branches of government, and local community representatives to develop sustainable solutions for seemingly intractable public health problems. Stemming the rising tide of obesity and costly, chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, for example, means more than a simple visit to the doctor. Instead, it requires thinking about the entire life course of a person, understanding the interplay of factors like access to healthy food and exercise, and analyzing what kinds of interventions would be most effective at different stages and in different situations. By partnering with diverse stakeholders and framing the issues in revolutionary new ways, we find common ground upon which we build a solid foundation for success. By uniting voices and leveraging diverse assets, UfHI brings much-needed innovation to public health.
For 50 years the organization has developed integrated solutions that reflect the dynamic, complex nature of the public health landscape and we are proud of our legacy. From striving to eliminate River Blindness to assessing critical gaps and mapping effective responses to the Zika virus and antimicrobial resistance, we’ve worked to save lives and create more sustainable futures for people across the Americas. And now, with our name change, we can help bridge the gap between public and private stakeholders to develop strategic partnerships that create long-term, sustainable programming opportunities. We look forward to strengthening our work with our partners over the next 50 years as we continue to improve public health outcomes, save lives and change the futures for people in the Americas.
UfHI, formerly PAHO Foundation, is an independent, US registered 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization that unites government, industry and local communities in the Americas to advance innovation in public health. mobilizes resources, and brings together like-minded mission-oriented partners to improve public health outcomes in the Americas. The organization is based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Uniting for Health Innovation is a member of the Georgia Global Health Alliance.