History

We are an independent, nonprofit organization that unites government, industry, and local communities to advance innovation in public health.

We are Uniting for Health Innovation (UfHI), formerly PAHO Foundation, with decades of experience working to improve the health and well-being of people in the Americas. In 2018, we will celebrate 50 years of dedication to this mission. 

Initially known as the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF) and more recently as PAHO Foundation, we were established in 1968 to identify and mobilize resources in support of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and to fund related public health programs.

Since our inception, we have been dedicated to advancing health and health education in the Americas. In fact, one of our earliest initiatives was to develop a program to improve medical education in the Americas. That program, known as PALTEX, was so successful that it was later expanded to include textbooks for all the health sciences as well as training materials for public health officials. PALTEX enabled institutions of higher learning to access the most up-to-date medical textbooks translated into Spanish and Portuguese. 

2016 marked a pivot point as we expanded our focus to bringing together nontraditional and traditional voices to improve public health outcomes. Today we are governed by an independent board of trustees comprised of international health experts, business leaders, and academics with expertise in the region. With a new board, a growing support base, and new offices in Atlanta, Georgia, we are expanding our scope and engaging new partners

Still, we remain proud of our PAHO origins and dedicated to the same goals of fighting communicable and noncommunicable diseases and strengthening health systems in the Americas. 

Key Organizational Milestones

Over the years, Uniting for Health Innovation 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

  • 1968: Established as the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF)
  • 1970s: PAHEF creates the Expanded Textbooks and Instructional Materials Programs (PALTEX), which was developed to improve medical education in the Americas. PALTEX ensured an affordable and high-quality supply of medical and public health textbooks and learning materials were widely available across Latin America and the Caribbean in several languages for 45 years.  The success of PALTEX led to the program’s expansion to include textbooks for all the health sciences, as well as training materials for public health officials.
  • 1980s: PAHEF collaborated with 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 to work to eliminate river blindness through the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program of the America’s (OEPA).  This program raised more than $45 million USD worth of medicine to reach communities in need – helping preserve the sight of countless individuals in countries where river blindness is endemic. 
  • 2000-12: UfHI partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to launch the ProVac Initiative: a multi-year program to promote evidence-based policy decisions on vaccine introductions in the Americas. Then, in 2012, we published “10 Years of Vaccination Week in the Americas,” highlighting a campaign that has now vaccinated 640 million individuals since 2003 – the largest multinational health initiative in the Western Hemisphere.
  • 2015: UfHI organized a crowdfunding campaign – the first in the organization’s history – to purchase and distribute blood pressure cuffs in Guyana. The campaign increased heart health awareness and provided tools to address preventable heart disease in communities throughout the country.
  • 2016: Became independent 501(c)3, separate from PAHO and moved headquarters from Washington, DC to Atlanta, Georgia.
  • 2017: Expaneded Board of Trustees and partnerships.
  • 2018: Changed name to Uniting for Health Innovation (UfHI).