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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


GUERRERO-VELASCO, Rodrigo  and  APRAEZ-IPPOLITO, Giovanni. Héctor Abad-Gómez (1921-1987): physician, teacher and human rights defender. Gac Sanit [online]. 2021, vol.35, n.5, pp.495-498.  Epub Jan 24, 2022. ISSN 0213-9111.

Héctor Abad-Gómez, Colombian physician, university professor, journalist and human rights defender, was murdered in Medellín in 1987. He was a pioneer public health activist engaged in various fields. While being student his restless and dissatisfied mind, led him to fight for a better and safer water and food. He specialized in the University of Minnesota (USA), at his return to the country he led the establishment of the Rural Medical Service. Forced to exile for several years he was WHO consultant to several countries in the Americas and Asia. In 1956 he founded the Preventive Medicine and Public Health Department of the University of Antioquia. He carried out the first recorded mass community vaccination against polio in the world. He initiated a community health agents program known as “Rural health promoters” that later would be implemented nationally. In 1962 he first proposed the application of epidemiological methods to study violence; he was visiting professor at the University of California; he coined the term “polyiatry” for a specialty dedicated to the health populations; he was director of the Colombian National School of Public Health that currently bears his name. Héctor Abad-Gómez ventured into political life, in accordance with Virchow dictum that “politics is medicine on a large scale”. The lives of both have interesting similarities except for the tragic and premature death of the former that still receives rejection today in social, political and academic levels, both in Colombia and abroad.

Keywords : Epidemiology of violence; Medical education; Health promotors; Social engagement; Medical exile.

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