The region of the Americas highlights challenges and opportunities for new Director General of WHO

22 May 2017

Geneva, May 22, 2017 (PAHO / WHO) - The region of the Americas today called on the new WHO Director-General "to work towards transparent, balanced and effective governance at all levels, to provide political and technical guidance and efficient resource allocation."

Brazilian Health Minister Ricardo Barros, speaking for the region at the opening of the 70th World Health Assembly, noted that as WHO Director-General Margaret Chan's "term draws to a close, the incoming Director General will be challenged to build upon solid foundations laid by an accomplished administration."

The election process for a new Director-General starts May 23, when country delegations meet in closed session to choose among three candidates. For more informationon the elction process select this link.

Barros said the new Director-General "should aim for a balanced and comprehensive implementation of all mandates agreed by Member States. Implementing the Framework of Engagement with Non State Actors will help build partnerships better aligned with WHO's constitutional mission and free from conflicts of interest."

The Brazilian minister added that WHO "has an important role to play in support of the sustainable health agenda for the Americas, currently being developed. It should foster institutional collaboration, exchanges of best practices and lessons learned among the WHO regions and Geneva headquarters."

"WHO should be capable of responding swiftly to health emergencies of pandemic potential, anticipating and quickly reacting to outbreaks," Barros said. "The challenges of Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue and yellow fever are only too fresh in the minds of our peoples, health authorities and workforce. We cannot afford to underestimate the harm these events may cause, particularly to people and countries most in need."

The minister added that WHO should also be in a position to act on NCDs, nutrition and obesity, access to medicines and the social determinants of health, which are linked to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He added, "Balanced geographical representation and gender equality at all levels is a priority. As are program design and resource allocation to suit the specific characteristics, needs and interests of the different regions."

He also told delegates, "We are happy to bring to the attention of this Assembly that the Americas last year became the first WHO region to eliminate measles - the fifth vaccine-preventable disease eradicated from the region with the support of PAHO/WHO."

"We commit to working closely with the next Director General in order to improve WHO's capacity to respond to the health challenges of the XXI Century, leaving no one behind," Barros added.


Speech in representation of the Americas at the WHA 70 delivered by Minister of Health of Brazil, Ricardo Barros