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Highlights from the IPPF/WHR Regional Council Meeting & Awards Banquet 2011
Earlier this month, more than 200 delegates from 26 countries in Latin America, North America, and the Caribbean attended the 2011 International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR) Regional Council meeting in Panama. The gathering was held to celebrate the previous year's accomplishments, assess the progress in the region, and establish an agenda for collectively accelerating sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Dr. Carmen Barroso, IPPF/WHR Regional Director, congratulated attendees—who represented the boards and staff of IPPF/WHR’s 40 Member Associations—for providing more than 26 million health services in 2011 alone. "In my more than 30 years of fighting for sexual and reproductive rights and health, I’ve seen the same challenges and obstacles," she said. "In each of these instances, the challenges we faced seemed insurmountable. But each time, we overcame. Every single one of you is a testament to our strength.”
An Awards Banquet was held on Saturday, October 1 and was presided over by the Chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council, Alexander Sanger, and IPPF/WHR Board Member Jovana Ríos.
Three organizations whose innovative approaches significantly furthered IPPF/WHR goals were presented with WestWind Awards:
● Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FLATT) for its efforts to promote sexual and reproductive rights for all;
● PROFAMIL Colombia for strengthening the IPPF/WHR network by training allies throughout the region and sharing their expertise; and
● CIES in Bolivia for ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health services by securing access to the HPV vaccine for rural and impoverished youth.
"It is an honor to be recognized by IPPF/WHR,” said Dr. Jhonny Lopez Garcia, Executive Director of CIES Bolivia. “In Bolivia we have worked tirelessly for citizens to have equal opportunities in education and health. This achievement fills us with pride and encourages us to work even harder."
Dr. Guillermo Galán was recognized for his important contributions and commitment as a volunteer in Chile. Galán has played an important role in the development and promotion of the national regulation standards and legislation regarding therapeutic abortion. The ceremony came to a close with the Medal of Honor being presented to Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón, for championing the rights of women.
Although Mayor Casaubón was unable to attend the event, Mexico City’s Secretary of Health, Dr. Armando Ahued, accepted the award on his behalf. In his acceptance speech, Dr. Ahued stressed the importance of securing the sexual and reproductive health of youth and highlighted the need for public health decisions to be made on the basis of public health and research evidence rather than morals. “Sexual and reproductive rights is a public health problem, not a religious or moral problem. We have to respect the decisions of women.”