University of Minnesota

Pekka Puska, MD

Born: 1945

Pekka Puska is a strategist in community organization for CVD prevention and an interventional epidemiologist as head of the North Karelia Project. He was educated at Turku University, receiving his MD in 1971, and became the leader of the East Finnish demonstration project when it was launched in 1972. Puska either assembled or developed the social theories underlying that project and directed its operation and analysis until 1978, when he moved to the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki. He directed the Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion of that institute, and at the same time served in the Finnish Parliament. After leading Geneva WHO efforts in disease-prevention and health-promotion for several years, he returned to the National Public Health Institute in 2000 as its director general.

Puska’s researches are catholic, with focus on community behaviors, disease trends, and interventions on a broad scale, balanced by small pragmatic trials on practical issues such as shifting eating patterns and use of plant sterol margarines and soy yoghurt to influence risk-factor levels. His community programs have dealt with diet and physical activity, and with tobacco and alcohol use, with emphasis on youth. His policy work centers on the prediction and interdiction of non-communicable disease epidemics in the developing world, applying the hard-won lessons from the developed world.

Pekka Puska has become a leader of great standing and vision in international health. (HB)

Please click here for a description of the North Karelia Project.


Henry Blackburn

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