On the morning of July 4, President Ma Ying-jeou presented the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon to Donald A. Henderson, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, in recognition of his distinguished contributions to the development of biomedical technology in Taiwan.
The ceremony was held at 10:00 a.m. at the Presidential Office Building. Among those attending were attorney Ryan Morhard, a friend of Dr. Henderson's from the University of Pittsburgh, Secretary-General to the President Timothy Chin-Tien Yang (楊進添), Academia Sinica Vice President Chien-Jen Chen (陳建仁), Deputy Minister Tzou-Yien Lin (林奏延) of the Department of Health (DOH) under the Executive Yuan, US-based DOH advisor Steve H. S. Kuo (郭旭崧), Centers for Disease Control Director-General Feng-Yee Chang (張峰義), and Director-General of the Third Bureau of the Office of the President Fen-Fen Chang (張芬芬).
After the master of ceremonies recited the commendation on the accompanying certificate, President Ma decorated Dr. Henderson with a sash and medallion. President Ma and Dr. Henderson then shook hands and stood together for a photograph, and Dr. Henderson delivered remarks.
Dr. Henderson expressed deep honor at receiving this decoration from President Ma, and expressed appreciation to the government and people of Taiwan for their recognition of his work.
Dr. Henderson then mentioned the "APEC Conference on the Innovation, Achievement and Sustainable Development in Public Health Emergency Response System 10 Years after the SARS Epidemic" that will soon commence in Taiwan. He lauded the progress that has been made, adding that a nation's ability to respond to a public health crisis is crucial in the fight against disease and natural disasters. He stated that Taiwan has experience in fighting SARS and outbreaks of avian flu, and the question of how to enhance the ability to react to public health emergencies is something that the government here needs to urgently address.
Dr. Henderson said he was pleased to learn that Taiwan's DOH is seeking to have the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Center for Health Security participate in an evaluation of Taiwan's Public Health Emergency Response Program. He stated that he was involved in the founding of the center 15 years ago, adding that the center has played a vital role and continues to be a leader in the field of public health crisis response in the United States.
Dr. Henderson also mentioned that he had served as a science and technology advisor to the ROC Executive Yuan for six years. Prior to that, he had served as the dean of the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University for 14 years. Over this period, he said, he has had frequent opportunities to cooperate and interact with health experts and scholars from Taiwan, along with Taiwanese graduate students studying in the United States. Dr. Henderson said he deeply admires the outstanding performance and high level of skill demonstrated by the people of Taiwan.