OD368 - Annual Report of the Director of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau

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1. This year’s Annual Report of the Director covers a period of transition on many fronts: from the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic to postpandemic recovery; from emergency response to implementing the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and reinvigorating service provision; and, within the Pan American Sanitary Bureau (PASB or the Bureau) itself, from one administration to another.

2. Periods of transition can herald upheaval. However, with sufficient reflection, they can also present an opportunity to use the momentum of change to address long-standing challenges and make valuable course corrections. In this report, we intend to demonstrate how PASB’s commitment to acknowledging weaknesses and gaps exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic —and learning hard lessons—is already delivering benefits for Member States, with the potential for far greater returns in the future.

3. Exemplifying the ideal of integrated work, this report presents an analysis of the past year’s activities that places the technical cooperation of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) within the context of health trends, challenges, and priorities in the Region of the Americas. The report highlights selected achievements that demonstrate the Bureau’s commitment to providing technical cooperation that supports countries to address health risks, strengthen health systems, and ensure effective service delivery, while expanding access to health and health services. This approach was chosen to illustrate the many ways in which PAHO is viewed as a respected authority, an inspiring leader, a valued partner, and an honest broker for health among Member States, partners, and donors.

4. The common theme of the report is the principle that country-centered cooperation, tailored to each Member State’s unique needs, capacities, and priorities, is key to accelerating progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals and achieving a state of both internal and external health security. This state is envisaged as a condition in which each country is not only resilient in the face of new infectious threats, but also secure in its capacity to respond to the changing health needs of its population—with a key measure of success being the reduction of inequities that sustain high-risk enclaves of vulnerability.

5. The PAHO Strategic Plan 2020–2025 committed PASB to place “equity at the heart of health.” This report, which reflects the midpoint of this plan, is intended as a manifestation of this commitment. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that our struggle as the most unequal region in the world underpins many of our current and future health challenges. But by learning its lessons, documenting innovations, and addressing the identified challenges, we have an opportunity to put the Region on an accelerated trajectory toward Health For All.