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PAHO Foundation Transitions into Uniting for Health Innovation (UfHI)

The name change represents a new chapter for the organization after 50 years of service, in addressing the scope of health care challenges in the region today.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Foundation was founded in 1968 as an organization with the goal of improving the well-being of people in the Americas by mobilizing resources to support public health. PAHO Foundation President and CEO, Jennie Ward-Robinson, PhD, has announced a new chapter for the organization as they are transitioning the name to now be, “Uniting for Health Innovation (UfHI).” The name change represents a new chapter for the organization after 50 years of service, in addressing the scope of health care challenges in the region today.

It also comes on the heels of a statement from the PAHO noting, “PAHO seeks to clarify its relationship with an entity calling itself the PAHO Foundation (the “Foundation”). The Foundation was formerly affiliated with PAHO, but we have severed our ties, and PAHO no longer has any relationship with the Foundation. The Foundation’s works and efforts are not sponsored by, approved by, affiliated or otherwise associated with PAHO. To avoid continued confusion, PAHO has commenced an arbitration proceeding seeking an injunction against the Foundation’s ongoing unauthorized use of PAHO’s name.”

The PAHO Foundation has since responded to the statement with a correction, stating, "Uniting for Health Innovation (“UfHI” or the “Foundation”) formerly The PAHO Foundation, and previously the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF), was created by the Pan American Health Organization* in 1968 in Washington, DC. Similar to the Pan American Health Organization, the Foundation’s purpose is to advance and foster health care in the Americas, by, among other things, engaging in activities to advance and stimulate efforts to combat disease, lengthen life, and promote the physical and mental health of the people, especially in the countries of the Western Hemisphere. On January 10, 2018, The PAHO Foundation became UfHI, building on our 50-year legacy as an independent, non-profit organization that unites government, industry and local communities to advance innovation in public health. Responding to the new health challenges that exist today, we seek to build bridges between diverse partners and stakeholders. Further, our name change also responds to the approved FENSA resolution which governs the relationship between WHO and nonstate actors. Our new name and transparent operations reduce the risk of any perceived conflict of interest between specialized agencies and UfHI, while we work to bridge the gap between public and private stakeholders, and devise innovative solutions leading to sustainable public health advancements. We remain proud of our PAHO origins, and resolute in our mission to improve the health and well-being of all people in the Americas through preventing non-communicable diseases, striving to eliminate and prevent communicable diseases, and strengthening health systems."

Dr. Ward-Robinson acknowledged in the official announcement that public health challenges today are more intertwined and present struggles to governments to address the health threats.

In order overcome these struggles, UfHI operates in a unique way by bringing together government officials, thought leaders, public health experts from academia, and community representatives to work collaboratively towards sustainable solutions. According to UfHI, the collaborative environment allows the convening groups to analyze individual factors and stages of health challenges and assess different solutions and effectiveness.

In the announcement, Minerva V. Saddler, interim vice president, Partnerships and Engagement, Latin America and the Caribbean said, “By partnering with diverse stakeholders—both public and private—and framing the issues in innovative 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.”

Over the course of 50 years, the organization has worked to address important public health challenges including conducting research to eliminate onchocerciasis (river blindness) and analyzing solutions to Zika virus. Looking forward, UfHI will attempt to strengthen relationships with partners and continue offering a collaborative environment that works towards sustainable solutions in the Americas.

Editor's note: In a statement released by UfHI, the foundation clarifies, "*This note is provided to correct misinformation contained on the Pan American Health Organization’s website, which incorrectly suggests that the Foundation is or was improperly using its former name (“The PAHO Foundation”). In fact, the Foundation owns the US registered trademark for “The PAHO Foundation” name, and its prior use was neither improper nor required PAHO’s authorization. The Foundation chose to change its name in light of PAHO’s decision to no longer work with the Foundation."