Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, May 26, 2014. The English-Speaking Consultation on the Health in All Policies (HiAP) Action Plan took place on Wednesday May 21st with the specific objective of reviewing the Draft Regional HiAP Action Plan. Dr. Edwin Vicente C. Bolastig, Advisor, Health Systems and Services at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), representatives from the Ministry of Health and the Regional Health Authorities convened at the PAHO office in Port-of-Spain to take part in the web conference. The virtual meeting provided Member States with a platform to exchange ideas and viewpoints to ensure that the plan is developed in a collective and inclusive manner by reflecting the uniqueness of the Region of the Americas. PAHO’s Special Program on Sustainable Development and Health Equity has worked closely with its Collaborating Centers and its networks to further strengthen the Health in All Policies (HiAP) Action Plan.
HiAP focuses on promoting health and health equity through an integrated government policy response. It emphasizes the importance of promoting health across, and integrating health within, all sectors, including agriculture, education, labor, the environment, finance, housing, and transportation. HiAP is an approach on health-related rights and obligations. It improves accountability of policymakers for health impacts at all levels of policy-making. It includes an emphasis on the consequences of public policies on health systems, determinants of health, and well-being. It also contributes to sustainable development.
The synergy between health promotion, the social determinants of health, and human rights is embodied in the concept of HiAP, as emphasized by the 2005 Bangkok Charter for Health Promotion in a Globalized World, Adelaide Statement on Health in All Policies in 2010, 2011 Rio Political Declaration on Social Determinants of Health, and the 8th Global Conference on Health Promotion in 2013.
The HiAP approach is fundamental to addressing aspects of environmental sustainability and health equity. Adverse environmental conditions and exposure to biological and chemical agents can lead to negative health impacts and induce disease. Human interactions with the environment are complex and require cross-sector collaboration to develop policies and programs. HiAP provides the appropriate guidelines for work with relevant agencies in tackling multifaceted environmental health issues
The Universal Health Coverage (UHC) agenda, which aims at improving people’s health and reducing health inequities, similarly requires a HiAP approach. UHC ensures that all people, including the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, have access to effective health care that does not cause financial hardship, including disease prevention, health promotion, curative care, rehabilitation, and palliative care.
The HiAP approach will play an important role in improving public health in the 21st century and will contribute to more efficient and equitable health systems in the Region of the Americas. In order to maximize the effectiveness of HiAP, Member States must gather and analyze evidence of successful policies, as well as identify areas that need improvement. The HiAP approach also requires the identification and engagement of relevant stakeholders and the creation of new structures, such as committees and departments, or the reorganization of existing structures.
An estimated US$500,000 over a period five years, from 2014 to 2019, will cover the costs for technical cooperation to develop and implement this Plan. PAHO will present its Draft HiAP Regional Action Plan to the Executive Committee in June 2014 with the objective of submitting it to PAHO’s Directing Council in September 2014.