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No. 2, 2014

USAID Honors Dr. Ken Castro’s Contributions to Global TB Control

During a whirlwind week of activities commemorating World TB Day 2014, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) honored Rear Admiral Ken Castro, MD, with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The recognition ceremony was held at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, on March 25, 2014.

Kojo Nnamdi, host of the “The Kojo Nnamdi Show” on the Washington, DC, radio station WAMU and someone who has experienced TB within his own family, was the Master of Ceremonies for the event attended by several hundred. USAID’s Assistant Administrator for Global Health, Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez, and RESULTS’ Executive Director, Joanne Carter, shared the privilege of introducing each of the individuals who received awards. Other Champions in the global fight against TB acknowledged by USAID included:

  • Senator Sherrod Brown (OH);
  • Representative Kay Granger (TX, 12th district);
  • Representative Eliot Engel (NY, 16th district);
  • His Excellency Mr. Heng Hem, Ambassador to the U.S. from the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia;
  • The Consortium to Respond Effectively to the AIDS and TB Epidemic (CREATE)—Dr. Richard Chaisson accepted the award on behalf of CREATE;
  • The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA)–award winning producer Jezza Neumann, whose documentary TB: Silent Killer aired on PBS in March; and
  • TB survivors who were in Washington to participate in various World TB Day events on Capitol Hill.

Deb SodtThe last award of the evening, the Distinguished Lifetime Award, was reserved for Dr. Castro, and as Mr. Nnamdi called Dr. Castro on stage he called him a “TB Superstar.” In his introductory comments, Dr. Pablos-Méndez identified Dr. Castro as a physician-scientist, known for his ability to work with people, his leadership skills, and his dedication to the fight against TB, spanning almost 30 years. Dr. Pablos-Méndez said Dr. Castro’s was “a life story of success” and expressed the hope that, although Dr. Castro was retiring from the CDC Commissioned Corps, “his leadership, talent, and friendship could continue to be tapped,” as the work to end TB was not finished.

In accepting the award, Dr. Castro said that he was “deeply honored, humbled, and grateful,” then added, with the irreverent humor for which he is known, that “since he was not dead…the lifetime achievement award was for what had been achieved during his lifetime in a uniform.” Dr. Castro pledged his intent to continue fighting, with a full beard, not resting in retirement, as there was still work to be done. He dedicated the award to those we have been called on to serve—TB survivors—“who have lent their much-needed voices to what has been a fairly faceless disease in this country.” He accepted the award on behalf of all of those working to identify and locate people affected with TB so life-saving treatment could be provided.He concluded his remarks by acknowledging the work of his colleagues at CDC who are united in the purpose of eliminating TB.

As Dr. Castro completes his remaining few months in a uniform, we recognize that USAID is just one of many organizations who will publicly acknowledge the contributions he has made to domestic and global TB control efforts. Although many awards have been and will be bestowed on our colleague and friend, perhaps the most meaningful gift he will receive is one that we can give him—continuing his legacy of dedicated work for those individuals and their families who are impacted by the disease. The promise of a truly TB-free world, and Dr. Castro’s commitment to this end, should be our constant motivation

Submitted by Donna Hope Wegener
National TB Controllers Association

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