Panelists debate the development of health policies with an integrative perspective

16 Jul 2021

From the webinar series on Essential Public Health Functions

Washington, DC, 12 July 2021 (PAHO)- Within the framework of the webinar series on the Essential Public Health Functions (EPHF), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) held the third meeting of this series that focused on deepening the debate on policy formulation processes with a comprehensive and integrative perspective that includes individual, collective and social determinants of health.

A panel of experts, moderated by Alejandro Morlachetti,  Legal Advisor on Human Rights, PAHO/WHO, analyzed the progress and challenges of legislative and regulatory frameworks from a perspective of health as a fundamental human right.

Ernesto Báscolo, Advisor on Governance, Leadership, Policies and Planning in Health, PAHO/WHO, presented some innovations of essential public health functions.  "The new EPHF framework goes beyond a perspective limited to a list of health promotion interventions and questions the capacities of the State to formulate and implement policies aimed at strengthening responses to health problems in different contexts,” said Báscolo.
Mukesh Chawla, Health, Nutrition and Population Advisor at the World Bank, presented the complex world of health policy development. "Any comprehensive response to face COVID-19 must integrate public health functions into health and safety systems while improving intersectoral collaboration to address the social determinants of health and guarantee the individual right to health.” he said.

To address the issue of legislation in public health and strengthening of health systems, the panel had the participation of Mario Fiad, national senator for the province of Jujuy, Argentina, who reflected on the current and future challenges produced by the COVID-19 pandemic in the field of health legislation.  “The design of new health policy strategies must encompass and integrate the essential functions of public health renewed in the face of emergency situations exposed by the pandemic, and in this sense, the renewed EPHF can become a guide for legislative work that guarantees the social values of the right to health, solidarity, and equity,” said Fiad.

Oscar Cabrera, Director of the Initiative for Healthy Families of the O'Neill Institute for Health and National and Global Law of Georgetown University, analyzed the agenda of the EPHF from a human rights perspective. "There has been an important regulatory development in the context of public health and human rights. Currently, it is understood that they are connected and that both pursue similar objectives. An example is the measures that the States have interposed to mitigate the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic, where public health interventions had to be applied seeking the protection of fundamental rights."

Ignacio Ibarra, Advisor, Health-related Legislation, PAHO/WHO, gave the closing remarks and reflected on the webinar’s highlights.

This webinar series, organized by the Health Services and Access Unit of the Department of Health Systems and Services, will offer different themes, actors, and experiences of the countries to strengthen the essential functions of public health. The seminars will take place during the rest of the year.

More information is available here.