Since its inception, PAHO Foundation has been dedicated to advancing health and health education in the Americas. PAHO Foundation was first established September 5, 1968 to develop a program to improve medical education in the Americas. PALTEX, one of PAHO Foundation's past programs, was so successful that it was later expanded to include textbooks for all of the health sciences as well as training materials for public health officials. PALTEX focussed on enabling institutions of higher learning to access the most up-to-date medical textbooks translated into Spanish and Portuguese. 

PAHO Foundation Board of Trustees

The creation of PAHO Foundation, formerly known as Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF), was endorsed by the Member States of the Pan American Health  Organization (PAHO). PAHO Foundation’s Board of Trustees  met for the first time on February 9, 1970 and selected Dr. Abraham Horwitz, the internationally recognized former PAHO Director as its first President & CEO. Today, PAHO Foundation is governed by an independent board of directors comprised of 8 international health experts, business leaders, and academics with expertise in the region.


Over the years, PAHO Foundation has expanded its scope of activities and currently works with a variety of partners to advance health in the Americas. One of the most notable and longest-running projects is an initiative to fight river blindness (onchocerciasis) in the region. As part of the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program of the Americas (OEPA), PAHO Foundation has made it possible for over US $45 million worth of Mectizan to reach communities in need—helping preserve the sight of countless individuals in countries where river blindness is endemic. PAHO Foundation has helped facilitate the donation of Mectizan tablets since 1989. The OEPA is a collaboration between PAHO Foundation; The Carter Center; PAHO; Merck & Co., Inc.; the Centers for Disease Control; Lions Clubs; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the governments of Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, and Guatemala. 

Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Public Health

In 1975, the Abraham Horwitz Award for Excellence in Inter-American Health was established by PAHO Foundation and PAHO to honor leaders whose commitment to public health stimulates excellence among others.

The program has grown to a total of six awards. In addition to leadership in inter-American health, awards are presented to recognize: voluntary service, health literature, veterinary public health, bioethics, and universal health care. The awards stimulate the growth of the next and rising generation of leaders working together to improve health and health care in the Americas.

Small Grants Program

In 2005, PAHO Foundation created a small grants program that awarded up to $50,000 to projects promoting the health of indigenous people, infection control in health care settings, healthy aging and countering childhood obesity. The very successful program concluded at the end of 2008, having funded more than 30 projects.

PAHO Foundation Today

The year 2016 has been transformative for PAHO Foundation. With a new Board of Trustees, growing support base, and new offices in Atlanta, GA, PAHO Foundation is expanding its scope and engaging new partners. As we continue to grow, we welcome partners who share our values and support our mission.