Campus honors 2002 ‘public health heroes’

20 March 2002 | From rural villagers who receive health care in Bangladesh to U.S. residents who now seek medical care in desegregated hospitals, millions have benefited from the contributions of the 2002 Public Health Heroes honored last week by the School of Public Health.

The awards were presented Friday, March 15 at an Oakland celebration. Estab-lished in 1996, the annual awards recognize individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievements in the advancement of public health and health care.

This year’s award winners are the following:
• Zafrullah Chowdhury, for bringing health care to the underserved rural population in Bangladesh. Using his experience in setting up the first field hospital for freedom fighters and refugees in the war of liberation for Bangla-desh, Chowdhury founded the non-governmental organization Gonoshasthaya Kendra, or the People’s Health Center, in 1972 to provide primary health care services for rural communities. The organization has since expanded to include agricultural cooperatives, women’s vocational training centers and family planning services.

• Philip Lee, for his role in influencing U.S. health policy. In the 1960s, Lee served as director of Health Services in the state department’s Agency for International Develop-ment, and then as deputy assistant secretary to the Department of Health, Edu-cation and Welfare. Lee was one of the few physicians who supported Medicare. He also worked to apply the Civil Rights Act to desegregate hospitals and helped establish the National Center for Health Services Research. After spending 24 years at UCSF, he went back to Washington, D.C., in 1993 to serve a four-year term in the Clinton Administration as assistant secretary for Health and Human Services.

• Rob Reiner, for shining the spotlight on the early developmental years of children. Reiner, a movie director and actor, co-founded the I Am Your Child Foundation. In 1998, he led the effort in California to pass Proposition 10, the innovative initiative that levied a 50-cent tax on cigarettes to fund early childhood development programs for the state’s youngest children. Reiner chairs the California Children and Families Commission, which oversees the Proposition 10 funds, and co-chairs the Governor’s Task Force on School Readiness with Educa-tion Secretary Kerri Mazzoni.

• On Lok, a San Francisco-based non-profit organization established in 1971, for providing the elderly with quality, affordable care services. The organization, which means “place of peace and happiness” in Cantonese, was one of the country’s first day-health centers for the elderly and provides an alternative to nursing homes. On Lok’s success served as a model for the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), a Medicare program signed into law in 1997 to make it available in all 50 states. Since then, more than 60 organizations in 27 states are in different stages of replicating the On Lok model through the PACE program.

The Public Health Heroes are chosen by members of the School of Public Health’s Advisory Council, a group made up of community, industry and faculty leaders.

“It is a privilege to be adding this year’s four honorees to the school’s very distinguished list of Public Health Heroes,” said Edward Penhoet, dean of the School of Public Health.


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