Caracas, 14 June 2018 (PAHO/WHO) - Halting the transmission of measles and diphtheria, reducing the incidence of malaria, and ensuring access to priority medicines were just some of the issues highlighted by the Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa Etienne, during her meeting with the Venezuelan Ministry of Health, Luis Lopez, yesterday.

"Primary health care should be implemented in such a way that it is able to resolve the vast majority of health care needs"

Dr. Etienne announced that PAHO will renew its efforts to work alongside the Peoples' Ministry of Health (MPPS), through its office in Venezuela, to ensure access to medicines and health services. The Organization also called for primary care services to be strengthened. "Primary health care should be implemented in such a way that it is able to resolve the vast majority of health care needs," said Etienne. "As a result, it is fundamental that primary care services have access to the necessary resources. This includes equipment, human resources, medicines, supplies and technology."

Dr. Etienne meets with Health Authorities in Venezuela

Etienne also emphasized that efforts must be made to end the disease outbreaks currently being experienced by the country. "Plans to end the outbreaks must be revised and put into place as soon as possible. If we work hard, together we can stop the transmission of measles and diphtheria quickly, and also reduce the incidence of malaria."

The Minister of Health, Luis Lopez, assured Dr. Etienne that the Ministry's priority is to ensure the provision of medicines, which will be obtained through the PAHO Revolving Fund and the Strategic Fund. He also announced that efforts would also be made to train new specialist doctors, as well as to ensure vaccination and fumigation.

After the meeting, the Director of PAHO visited the Celia Sanchez Manduley Diagnostic Centre in Caricuao, and the Jesus Yerena Lidice General Hospital in La Pastora, Caracas. During her visit, Dr. Etienne delivered medicines for the primary care of 10 thousand people. She also delivered antimalarial drugs, as well as equipment and supplies for emergency care and general medicine.

Dr. Etienne also announced that the Lidice General Hospital would be included in the Safe Hospitals strategy that PAHO initiated with the MPPS in April 2017, and which currently includes 21 priority hospitals all over the country.

The Director of PAHO; the PAHO representative in Venezuela, Jose Moya; PAHO's Director of Emergency Preparedness, Ciro Ugarte; and the Head of the Health Services and Access Unit, are due to meet tomorrow with representatives from civil society organizations.

PAHO HQ staff travels to Venezuela to support