Countries of the Americas exchange experiences on social participation mechanisms for health systems strengthening

15 Nov 2022
Diálogo participación social

Washington, DC, 15 November 2022 (PAHO) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) held the fourth seminar of the series “Policy options for strengthening and transforming health systems in the Americas” about social participation as a key element in health systems strengthening and transformation.

The webinar, which brought together more than 750 participants from 44 countries, focused on placing people at the center of health, not only in delivering people-centered care but also in their full participation and engagement in the design, functions, and governance of health systems.

“The issue of effective social participation is of utmost relevance, and - although so often neglected in our countries- namely as a means to realize the right to health in the Americas,” said Carissa F. Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, in her opening remarks. 

“For people’s views to be aired and heard requires an environment in which people feel empowered to speak their voices. Doing so gives populations agency over their health and lives, which is a key step in fulfilling the right to health,” she added.

Hernan Montenegro, PAHO representative at the Uruguay country office, moderated the event. James Fitzgerald, director of Health Systems and Services department at PAHO, spoke about the existing overarching mandates of PAHO that guide work on social participation and the importance of the renewed Essential Public Health Functions in including social participation as an integral part of the governance of health systems. 

The panel of experts conformed of Walter Flores, senior adviser of the Centro de estudios para la equidad y gobernanza en los sistemas de salud (CEGSS) in Guatemala; Fernando Zasso Pigatto, president of the National Health Council in Brazil; and Luis Galicia, program coordinator at the Ministry of Health in Uruguay, exchanged experiences on how social participation mechanisms have been set up in their countries and analyzed whether health systems in the Region of the Americas are prepared to move towards resilience and universal access to health.

Dheepa Rajan, advisor of the Department of Health Systems Governance and Financing at the World Health Organization, officially launched the Spanish, Portuguese and French versions of the Handbook on social participation for universal health coverage

This series of seminars is part of the "Strategy for building resilient health systems and post-COVID-19 pandemic recovery to sustain and protect public health gains". The next series’ webinar will be on December 9 at 10.00 a.m. (EST) and will address the role of public health in the strengthening and transforming health systems in the Americas. Register here.

Information on the webinar series on Policy Options to Strengthen and Transform Health Systems in the Americas and on upcoming events.