First Lady Nadine Heredia of Peru met with Carissa F. Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, on 17 April to discuss collaboration on Peru’s priority health issues, including nutrition and food security, maternal mortality, health system reform, and universal health coverage.
Peru’s OAS Ambassador, Walter Alban; PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne; First Lady Nadine Heredia; and Ambassador of Peru to the United States Harold Forsyth.
Heredia described efforts by Peru, under President Ollanta Humala, to reduce hunger and address other health and social problems that contribute to inequality and impede the country’s full development.
“We have a growing economy and stability in Peru. It’s important to take advantage of this to invest in health and education and to improve social conditions for the population,” she said.
Toward these goals, Peru is implementing health reforms that include increases in the health budget, improvements in primary care, higher pay for health personnel, exchange of services between the social security and public health systems, and other measures to advance toward universal health coverage.
Heredia noted that PAHO has provided technical support for this process and said Peru would welcome additional support, especially in such areas as sharing best practices in health reform and facilitating technology transfer for manufacturing essential medicines.
Etienne said she applauded Peru’s progress in health reform as well as in reducing malnutrition and maternal and child mortality. She pledged PAHO’s continued support for these efforts and offered new support in best practices sharing and technology transfer, as well as capacity building for drug regulatory systems and procurement of essential medicines at reduced prices through the PAHO Strategic Fund.
Etienne said universal health coverage should be the ultimate goal of all health reform, adding that this can only be achieved through multi-sector action that addresses the social determinants of health. This in turn requires “leadership at the highest levels” to ensure the necessary action by different sectors of government and society.
In recognition of her work in nutrition, Heredia was named a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Special Ambassador for the International Year of Quinoa. She urged PAHO to join her in promoting traditional healthy foods such as quinoa and noted that the Pan American Alliance for Nutrition and Development, of which PAHO is a founding member, also supports these efforts.