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PAHO presents study on financing international cooperation for health

International health assistance is marginal in relation to national health efforts and expenditures, because these factors are the principal engines of health development in LAC

Panama, 29 September 2011 (PAHO/WHO)– International cooperation in health development has responded to the situations of the moment more than to a medium- and long-term vision of health development in the Americas. That is the conclusion of a study by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) presented last week in Panama City.

The study also shows that international assistance to the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) governments for health development declined by 30% after the Millennium Summit of 2000.

The study was presented by Dr. Rebecca De Los Ríos, PAHO/WHO Senior Adviser on Partnerships, Associations and Resource Mobilization, at the XXII Meeting of International Cooperation Directors for Latin America and the Caribbean, held 29-30 September 2011. The meeting was attended by the international cooperation directors of Latin America and the Caribbean, representatives of bilateral and multilateral development agencies and regional and international agencies, as well as specialists and academics from the Region.

At this meeting, Dr. De Los Ríos stated that 64% of the bilateral assistance to LAC came from the United States, Spain, and Canada, adding that 29% of the total was earmarked to fight AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. In other words, almost one third of official assistance for health development received by LAC targeted a health problem that represents only 2.4% of the Region’s total disease burden.

According to Dr. De Los Ríos, after the Millennium Summit, assistance at the global level grew rapidly, while in Latin America and the Caribbean it stagnated and trended downward. “Per capita income and disease burden are not usually the weightiest criteria when allocating resources for health assistance to the countries of our Region,” she said.

“International assistance for health development has tended to stagnate and even fall. Moreover, it plays a very marginal role in comparison with the significant efforts of the countries themselves. The Millennium Summit did not have a major impact in terms of growing public health expenditures in Latin America and the Caribbean,” she declared.

“In light of this, since the Latin American and Caribbean region is the most unequal, but not the poorest, in the world, it is imperative to rethink how we view, manage, deliver cooperation for health development, using innovative approaches and alternative financing mechanisms that are more responsive to the realities of the Region,” asserted Dr. De Los Ríos. She was referring to the conclusions of a study she wrote with Drs. Carlos Arósquipa and William Vigil-Oliver (PAHO/WHO), “Financiamiento internacional para la cooperation al desarrollo de la salud de América Latina y el Caribe [International Financing to Develop Health in Latin America and the Caribbean]," published recently by the Revista Panamericana de la Salud/Pan American Journal of Public Health of PAHO/WHO, with contributions from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).

The objective of the XXII Meeting of International Cooperation Directors for Latin America and the Caribbean was to provide a general overview of the policies and initiatives driving the countries of the Region in the sphere of health and the role that regional and subregional integration mechanisms are playing to strengthen that cooperation. It also sought to identify and share information on opportunities for triangular South-South health cooperation, which is offered by bilateral and multilateral development agencies, and to promote the sharing health cooperation needs among meeting participants.

Meetings of International Cooperation Directors for Latin America and the Caribbean have been held since 1978 to promote a permanent discussion forum so that the international cooperation directors of the Region and the various stakeholders in international cooperation and South-South cooperation can share information, ideas, experiences, and good practices in different areas of cooperation from a Latin American and Caribbean perspective.


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