The NIH Director
NIH Statement on Recognition of Haitian Organization Devoted to Health Research
June 17, 2010
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation today presented its prestigious $1 million Gates Award for Global Health to a Haitian organization devoted to HIV/AIDS. GHESKIO—known for the French acronym of Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections—is being recognized for making significant research discoveries, training the next generation of Haitian scientists, and for providing free, high-quality treatment to Haitians infected with HIV. Since the tragic earthquake in January, GHESKIO also has been caring for thousands of injured, sick, and homeless Haitians on and near its premises. GHESKIO is highly deserving of this honor. The organization has had astounding success over the past three decades, helping to cut in half the prevalence of Haitians infected with HIV.
GHESKIO was founded on the principle that the triad of research, training and service are all interlinked and essential to making progress and saving lives. Dr. Jean William (Bill) Pape, GHESKIO’s founder and director, has led this effort, conducting cutting edge research on its prevention and treatment, and setting up clinics around Haiti to implement a national treatment program. Along the way, he has trained many cadres of clinicians, laboratory scientists and investigators, addressed a continuous stream of programmatic challenges, and provided answers to critically important research questions. Their efforts helped pave the way for the massive rollout of AIDS drug therapy throughout the developing world, via the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR, and other programs such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Several million people around the world are alive today due in part to these efforts.
GHESKIO is deserving of the Gates Award and recognition, not only for the success it has achieved for its work in Haiti, but as an example of how American investment in global research can be most effectively deployed. GHESKIO has developed local scientific leadership and an outreach program across Haiti that has been instrumental in helping the country address some of its most pressing problems, including HIV. This is a cause to celebrate and a lesson for all of us.
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
National Institutes of Health