The American Public Health Association has awarded Diana M. Bonta, director of the Long Beach, CA Department of Health and Human Services, the Roemer Prize for "Creative Local Public Health Work" -- an award that apparently has more to do with creating bureaucracy that creative solutions to public health problems.
According to a report in The Nation's Health (September 1998):
- The APHA "noted the impressive quality of her leadership and the 'remarkable progress' the department has made under her tenure.
- Although the City of Long Beach was considering phasing out the Department of Health and Human Services, "Under Bonta's leadership, the department gained a new building and improved its infrastructure and focus..."
- "...responding to a rise in black infant mortality rates, the staff initiated a successful program that led to a community advisory committee on black infants' health, an educational video, a health and safety fair, a mentoring program, and a women's educational center."
And there are more awards for dubious accomplishment.
Sarah S. Brown, director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, was awarded the Martha May Eliot Award honoring outstanding achievement in the field of maternal and child health. What did she do? As director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, "the campaign has reached prominence through media campaigns, congressional advisory panels, research reports and expert task forces."
Rosalia Rodriguez-Garcia, director and co-founder of the George Washington University's Center of International Health, was awarded the 1998 APHA Award for Excellence. The APHA made the award for Rodriguez-Garcia's "signal contributions" to the field of international health, including directing a rural hospital in Zaire, touring the People's Republic of China, working as a visiting professor in Chile and Romania, designing training programs for physicians and nurses in Portugal, and evaluating the use of mobile health clinics in Morocco. International? Yes. Excellence? You decide.
Jay M. Bernhardt won the 1998 Jay S. Drotman Memorial Award for organizing the APHA's Public Health Student Caucus and serving as its first president from 1996 to 1997.
The APHA's most prestigious award went to H. Jack Geiger, a founding member of Physicians for Social Responsibility. His claim to fame is "In 1967, he helped draft legislation creating and Office of Health Affairs within the Office of Economic Opportunity and allocating its first $25 million to develop a national network of community health centers."
Certainly these are impressive achievements expanding bureaucracy. What have these individuals accomplished for the public's health? Apparently, nothing to crow about.
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