Washington, D.C., 20 September 2021 (PAHO/WHO) – The Jamaican Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has been elected President of the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) 59th Directing Council, which convenes health authorities to determine the Organization’s priorities and policies corresponding to health in the Americas, including the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and other health challenges.
“The region has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic — not only therapeutically but also, socially, economically, and politically,” Dr Tufton said in his acceptance speech, adding that COVID-19 has sharpened inequalities. “Now more than ever, the region must act as a united force to build capacity and resilience in our public health systems,” Dr Tufton said. “PAHO has played a significant role in this regard and continues to be a unifying force in the region”.
Looking at the year ahead, Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness also said that countries must commit to building more robust health care systems capable of addressing current and future threats. This requires greater efforts to address quality of access to essential medicines and health technologies; sustainable health financing; greater emphasis on primary health care; more collaboration around human-resource training; addressing non-communicable diseases; and building the capacity for emergency response to disasters and emerging and re-emerging diseases, in particular, in small island developing states.
“The strengths of partnerships on the road to recovery are fostered by greater collaboration and less fragmentation in our efforts. Now is the time for us to join hands and hearts. Together we can succeed. We are as strong as our weakest link,” he said.
Dr. Tufton will preside over debates on a series of resolutions, policies and roadmaps that aim to increase the production capacity for essential medicines and health technologies in the Americas, revitalize immunization as a public good, digitally transform the health sector, establish resilient health systems, and ensure post-pandemic recovery, among others.
Dr. Tufton is a graduate of the University of the West Indies and Georgia State University, where he received degrees in Management Studies and Marketing respectively. He completed his Doctorate in Business Administration at University of Manchester’s Business School in the United Kingdom in 2002.
Prior to his current role as Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Tufton served as Minister of Industry, Investment & Commerce (June 2011-December 2011) and as Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries (November 2008 – June 2011). He is also a Member of Parliament for West Central St. Catherine since March 2016.
The vice president of Ecuador, Dr. Alfredo Borrero Vega, and the Minister of Health of El Salvador, Dr. Francisco José Alabi Montoya, were both elected vice-presidents of the 59th Directing Council.
The Directing Council is one of PAHO’s governing bodies, bringing together the highest health authorities in the Americas to debate and analyze policies and set priorities for technical cooperation and collaboration among countries.