Health Leaders Define Priorities for Joint Action in the Americas

Washington, D.C., 24 September 2012 (PAHO/WHO) Health authorities from throughout the Americas agreed on a series of joint public health actions during the 28th Pan American Sanitary Conference, held last week at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) in Washington, D.C.

The conference, held every five years, brings together ministers of health and other high-level delegates from PAHO/WHO member countries to discuss regional and national public health priorities, agree on joint action for addressing them, and provide guidance for PAHO/WHO’s technical cooperation programs.

A highlight of this year’s conference was the election of a new PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne of Dominica, who will take office in February 2013.

Delegates at the conference endorsed new initiatives including:

Also during the conference, the latest edition of the periodic PAHO report Health in the Americas was presented. It describes health progress and challenges in the countries of the Americas, providing both a regional overview and individual country analyses. The report shows that average life expectancy in the Region has gained 45 years since 1900 but emphasizes the persistence of dramatic health inequalities within and between countries.

Other highlights during the week-long conference included:

 
Delegates to the conference also received updates on issues of concern to PAHO/WHO Member States, including the implementation of the Health Agenda for the Americas and the International Health Regulations, PAHO/WHO’s budget policy and collection of quotas, and the Organization’s progress in implementing its strategic plan for 2008-2012.

The Pan American Sanitary Conference is PAHO’s supreme governing authority and meets every five years to determine its general policies. It also serves as a forum for the exchange of information and ideas on the prevention of disease; the preservation, promotion and restoration of mental and physical health; and the advancement of sociomedical measures and facilities for the prevention and treatment of physical and mental diseases in the Western Hemisphere.

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