Washington D.C., 30 September 2022 (PAHO/WHO) – The Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference ended today following a week of discussions by ministers of health and other delegates on health priorities in the region. The conference approved thirteen resolutions, including a commitment to recover equitable progress toward the sustainable development goals and a strategy to keep the Americas free of polio.
As the Region turns a corner on the “devastating COVID-19 pandemic”, there are yet “formidable challenges ahead,” the PAHO Director Dr. Carissa Etienne said.
“You have recognized that interactions at the human, animal, and environmental interfaces can trigger major crises and you have restated your support for the One Health comprehensive multisectoral, multi-stakeholder approach.”
The new regional initiatives approved by health leaders from throughout the Americas this week include those that seek to:
- Recover progress toward the sustainable development goals with equity though action on the social determinants of health and intersectoral work
- Promote increased investment in equitable and comprehensive community-based mental health care
- Strengthen the capacity of national health authorities to lead and manage system-wide transformations for integrated care
- Strengthen national regulatory systems for medicines and other health technologies
- Contribute to the expansion and consolidation of a regional genomic surveillance network
- Develop and implement a prioritized and targeted polio mitigation plan
On Wednesday, 28 September, the Conference also elected the next PAHO Director. The Director-Elect, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa da Silva Jr is a national of Brazil, and will begin his five-year term on 1 February 2023, succeeding Dr. Carissa F. Etienne of Dominica, who has led PAHO since 2012.
During the Conference, Dr. Etienne presented her 2018-2022 Quinquennial Report, the final of her tenure. The report encapsulates the Organization’s work over the past five years and highlights the impact that COVID-19 has had on magnifying existing inequities in the Americas.
And as PAHO approaches its 120th Anniversary this December, an interactive exhibit celebrated the Organization’s milestones and crucial work ensuring the health of those throughout the Region of the Americas.
“If we ever doubted it, the pandemic has demonstrated yet again that the creation of PAHO 120 years ago was an act of incredible foresight,” the PAHO Director added.
Side events included the presentation of ‘Americas Health Corps’, a United States/PAHO initiative to address the deficit of healthcare workers in the Americas through the training of 500,000 public health professionals over the next five years.
Regarding monkeypox, PAHO called on countries to prioritize detection, surveillance and community engagement to reduce new cases and put an end to the outbreak in the region.
During an update on COVID-19, the Organization also warned that the pandemic is still not over and called on countries to continue surveillance, testing and increasing vaccination coverage to avoid the emergence of new COVID-19 variants and a prolonged emergency.
Michael Pearson, Branch Head, Office of International Affairs for the Health Portfolio, Public Health Agency of Canada, served as President of the Pan American Sanitary Conference following his election by Ministers and delegates from the 38 PAHO Member States and Participating States.
“As I prepare to lower the curtain on my tenure as Director of PAHO and hand over leadership reins to me successor, I am encouraged to observe a new generation of leaders emerging across the region,” concluded Dr. Etienne.
“You give me optimism about the future of PAHO and health for all in the Americas,”