PAHO Director Says Collective Efforts Are Needed To Transform Health Systems

generic female lab tecnician with test tubes

A global symposium, held for the first time in Latin America, seeks to strengthen the capacity to respond to public health challenges.

Bogotá, Colombia, 2 November 2022 (PAHO) - During the opening of the 7th Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, the Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, highlighted the importance of joining efforts to transform health systems, achieve universal health, and improve human security.


The event is being held in Bogotá, Colombia, under the slogan "Health Systems Performance in the Political Agenda: Sharing Lessons for Current and Future Global Challenges".

"We have important work to do through conferences such as this, to reposition the value of science within our societies, and to strengthen institutional mechanisms that evaluate scientific evidence to guide future policymaking and actions in public health," the PAHO Director said in a video intervention, recalling the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. "Whether we are looking at the assessment of therapeutics during pandemic times, or the impact of investments in primary health care, we need to increase our capacity to generate evidence based on research," she added.

Etienne said this means greater collaboration between government and the scientific communities, increasing promotion and investment in health systems assessments and performance, and the adoption of research outcomes by policymakers. "And it means engaging more broadly society in the importance and merits of research, science, and the use of evidence," she emphasized.

She reiterated that beyond COVID-19 we continue to face new threats such as the monkeypox outbreak, which was declared a public health emergency of international concern last July. "The resilience of our health personnel and systems is again being tested as cases continue to rise in parts of our Region. Meanwhile, the burden of chronic disease continues to grow, with increasing rates of mortality, morbidity, and disability," she said.

The PAHO Director called on researchers, policymakers, and government officials to keep the focus on the overarching goal of health systems that are inclusive, expansive, and resilient to the growing number of health threats in the context of a changing climate and world."

Finally, she emphasized that PAHO remains committed to working with Member States, the scientific community, and society as a whole to generate, promote, and disseminate information for health actions based on the best evidence.

In December, the Pan American Health Organization celebrates 120 years of active work in the field of public health in the Americas.