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National Hispanic Medical Association Honors President Shalala

10/14/2005

University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala received the Health Leadership Award from the National Hispanic Medical Association during a special ceremony at the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the UM Miller School of Medicine on Friday, October 14.   The award is given to a person who has played a leading role in promoting the health and well being of the Hispanic population.

“As Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala established the ‘Hispanic Agenda for Action,’ the first major national effort to ensure that the future health and human services needs of the Hispanic population are met,” said Elena Rios, M.D., president and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association.  “Now as president of the University of Miami, in a city with one of the country’s largest Hispanic populations, Donna Shalala continues to show visionary leadership in showcasing the importance of Hispanic health and improving the Hispanic community.”

One of the main goals of the association is to encourage more Hispanics to enter the medical field. “We believe Donna Shalala is playing a very key role in driving Hispanic students to pursue medicine, so they can one day serve as physicians across the country,” said Dr. Rios.  Now 5 percent of physicians in this country are Hispanic.

“I am honored to receive this very special award from the National Hispanic Medical Association,” Shalala said.  “We ‘get it’ here at UM about cultural competence — we’ve educated more Hispanic doctors here than anywhere in the United States, other than the University of Puerto Rico. This trend will continue to be a priority at the University of Miami.”

The association is also focused on the plight of the uninsured, pointing out that while Hispanics make up 14 percent of the U.S. population, they constitute 29 percent of the country’s uninsured.  In addition, 61 percent of the non-elderly uninsured speak primarily Spanish.  “If we don’t do something about the uninsured rates, this country is going to have a big, big crisis,” said Dr. Rios.