School of Public Health alumnus receives lifetime achievement award

January 29, 2004

Clarence E. Pearson – an alumnus of Carolina’s School of Public Health – was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in International Health by the American Public Health Association (APHA). The award is given each year to an individual whose career has shaped the direction of international health. It was presented to Pearson in November in San Francisco during APHA’s annual conference. Pearson was one of three founding members of the APHA International Health Section, and has been a member of APHA for 50 years.A 1952 master’s degree graduate of the department of health education (now the department of health behavior and health education), Pearson was honored for his innovative contributions to public health education and management. Throughout his career, he has committed his energies to involving the private sector in public health initiatives and creating and reorganizing nonprofit organizations to effectively address national and international public health concerns.Pearson’s recent work includes co-editing Critical Issues in Global Health, with Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop and Roy Schwarz, president of the China Medical Board of New York and past senior vice president of the American Medical Association. The compendium, published in 2002, is an anthology of knowledge and thought on current international health issues authored by a panel of internationally renowned medical and public health experts. He is currently executive editor of a new publication on global health leadership and management whose principal editor is Dr. William Foege, senior advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In 1975, Pearson was the founding president the National Center for Health Education, dedicated to leading the nation in the implementation of lifelong comprehensive health education. The center conducts advocacy initiatives, facilitates information exchanges, provides technical assistance, and conducts health-related research and evaluation.

In the 1970s, Pearson organized the International Health Resource Consortium, a private sector nonprofit agency dedicated to initiating public/private sector coalitions in Central America to improve the health of populations there. The consortium’s work included implementing simple yet powerful mechanisms to improve rural health including utilizing company sugar cane trucks to transport materials to build pumps, latrines, and wells in rural villages.

Most recently, as senior advisor for non-communicable diseases and mental health, including the Tobacco Free Initiative within the World Health Organization’s office at the United Nations, Pearson helped raise funds to focus international attention, resources, and action on reducing global tobacco consumption. One of the initiative’s activities is the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a historic tobacco control treaty that provides the basic tools for countries to enact comprehensive tobacco control legislation.

Pearson’s involvement with Carolina’s School of Public Health also has continued through the years. Most recently, in November, Pearson was on hand at the 2003 School of Public Health conference: “Patients, Families and Healthcare Providers: Partners in Decision-Making, Advocates in Health Care” held at the Carolina Inn. The conference was made possible through a special fund established by Pearson and his wife Laurie Norris to advance the aims of patient advocacy. The fund was established in memory of Pearson’s first wife, June, who is deceased, and his son, Scott, who died of cancer.

For further information please contact Emily Smith by email at ejsmith@email.unc.edu