PAHO, UNICEF Join Forces to Improve the Health of the People in Latin America and the Caribbean

26 Jun 2013

Washington, D.C., 26 June 2013 (PAHO/WHO- UNICEF)-. The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and UNICEF agreed yesterday to strengthen their work together in the countries of the Americas in areas related to maternal and child health, adolescent health, health data and information systems, nutrition, and HIV/AIDS, as well as to keep strengthening their work in Haiti, a main priority for both organizations.

This was the result of a meeting between PAHO's Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, and UNICEF's Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Bernt Aasen, together with their aides, at PAHO/WHO headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the challenges stem largely from deep inequities that make the Region of the Americas the most unequal in the world. Maternal and neonatal mortality are highest in families that are poor, have less education, live in rural areas or belong to indigenous or afro-descendant groups.

As part of the new work plan, which will last until December 2015, the directors of both institutions agreed to strengthen their joint efforts at the regional level and in their respective country offices toward country ownership, in close dialogue with national and subnational authorities, development partners and social actors.

The joint PAHO-UNICEF efforts agreed will focus on the following areas:

  • Cooperation with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to implement the recommendations of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health and support the "Promise Renewed" movement in the region.
  • Accelerated implementation of PAHO's Strategy and Plan of Action for Integrated Child Health to help children reach their full potential in terms of physical, mental and emotional health.
  • Accelerated implementation of the Regional Initiative for the Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and Congenital Syphilis in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Cooperation in adolescent sexual and reproductive health, including a potential alliance for the implementation of an HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccine
  • Support to countries for vital statistics, health information systems, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), score cards and other tools to improve data quality and harmonize health indicator monitoring.
  • Collaboration on reducing the double burden of malnutrition and the increase of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

PAHO, UNICEF, and other multi-lateral partners and bi-lateral partners will hold a regional meeting in Panama in September, for the "Promise Renewed" global initiative, titled "A Promise Renewed for the Americas: Reducing inequities in reproductive, maternal and child health." The meeting will bring together partners from the international development community, the private sector, civil society and faith-based organizations to re-energize the effort to improve reproductive, maternal and child health.

UNICEF and PAHO/WHO have a long history of collaboration on similar initiatives in the region, as well as in the countries of Latin American and the Caribbean, said both directors in their opening remarks. The work of the organizations emphasizes the right to health, the need to strengthen the capacity of health systems, and the importance of addressing the social determinants of health as well as unjust and preventable inequality.