In Chile, PAHO Director meets President Boric, discusses health sector reform and initiatives to strengthen primary care and mental health

In Chile, PAHO Director meets President Boric

Santiago, Chile, 25 April 2023 (PAHO) – The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Dr. Jarbas Barbosa today met with the President of the Republic of Chile, Gabriel Boric, as well as leaders of the country’s Senate and Chamber of Deputies, where they discussed the current reforms to the country’s health system and initiatives to support mental health services, among other national health priorities.

During the meeting with the President, the Director reiterated PAHO’s support while the country undergoes an extensive reform of its health sector and welcomed the government’s initiative to modernize universal primary health care. The President underscored that the health agenda remains a priority for the country, especially as Chile moves forward with the reform process.

They also discussed the need to intensify action on mental health, an issue the President said “had been increasingly important in Chile, even before the pandemic.”

Dr. Barbosa briefed Mr. Boric on PAHO’ initiatives to address the issue, including the creation of the High-Level Commission on Mental Health, which is set to deliver its first report and recommendations to countries in the region in June.  

“It is the first time mental health has become a priority in health,” the PAHO Director said, highlighting that countries must seize this newly gained attention to promote policies to address it at the primary care level, taking advantage of innovations such as telemedicine services.

Dr. Barbosa also held meetings with Chile’s legislators in Valparaiso today, including with the President of Chile’s Senate, Mr Juan Antonio Coloma, and with the representatives of the Commissions of Health in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, José Luis Castro and Tomás Lagomarsino, respectively, as well as with members of both parliamentary committees.

Yesterday, during the first day of his visit to Chile, the PAHO Director met with Minister of Health Ximena Aguilera and several members of the country’s health authorities, where they discussed national priorities and opportunities for collaboration with PAHO, including in areas related to the health reform, mental health, migration and emergency preparedness and response.

On Monday, Dr. Barbosa met with the Executive Secretary of the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC), Mr. José Manuel Salazar Xirinachs. The two parties agreed to strengthen collaboration in areas related to health economy to better inform policies, with a special focus on primary healthcare services. “Despite the financial challenges in our region, investment in primary care is a cost-effective strategy towards universal health,” the PAHO Director said.

He also met with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mr. Mario Lubetkin, where they discussed collaboration in areas of nutrition, food security and One Health. 

On Wednesday, on the third day of his visit to the country, the Dr. Barbosa will meet Foreign Minister Alberto Van Klaveren Stork, and participate in the sixth meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development 2023, among other activities.