Washington, D.C., 4 October 2019 (PAHO/WHO) – The 57th Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) ended today following a week of discussions by ministers of health and other delegates on health priorities in the Americas. The meeting approved seven new regional initiatives, including a joint initiative to eliminate more than 30 diseases and conditions from the hemisphere by 2030 and a strategy to improve the quality of health care as part of PAHO member countries’ efforts to achieve “universal health.”
The meeting’s outcome represented “one of the best examples of Pan American solidarity to take collective action in the noblest interest of public health,” said PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne during the closing session of the Directing Council.
The seven new regional initiatives approved by health leaders from throughout the Americas this week seek to:
- Accelerate efforts already underway so as to eliminate more than 30 diseases and conditions from the Americas by the year 2030.
- Improve the quality of health care for all people, focusing on technical quality, cultural appropriateness, financing, and comprehensive care.
- Increase equitable access to organ, tissue and cell transplants throughout the Americas.
- Eliminate trans-fatty acids from industrially processed foods by 2025 through stepped-up regulatory action and consumer education.
- Strengthen information systems for health, seizing opportunities presented by the digital revolution to improve health systems and decision- and policymaking in health.
- Accelerate efforts to address the special health needs and obstacles faced by ethnic groups in the Americas, including indigenous, Afro-descendant, Roma and other ethnic groups.
- Strengthen health systems by fully incorporating health promotion, specifically social, political and technical action that addresses the conditions where people are born, grow, live, work, and age.
The Directing Council also approved a new strategic plan for PAHO, which sets out country action and PAHO technical cooperation over the next six years to reduce the main causes of death and illness in the Americas while addressing persisting inequities in health.
“As was true more than a century ago when PAHO was created, I believe that today, health is a bridge that can bring us closer. I am confident that we will go forward together, and our Region will continue to be a pioneering example of solidarity and success in health.”
During the Directing Council, the Pan American Health Organization’s Commission on Equity and Health Inequalities in the Americas presented its final report, which offers 12 recommendations for the countries of the Americas to reduce inequities and health inequalities. The recommendations address “structural inequalities that impede the achievement of universal health as well as our countries’ overall social and economic development,” noted Dr. Etienne.
PAHO Director Etienne reminded participants that their week of deliberations was part of a longstanding and successful tradition of health cooperation in the Americas. “As was true more than a century ago when PAHO was created, I believe that today, health is a bridge that can bring us closer. I am confident that we will go forward together, and our Region will continue to be a pioneering example of solidarity and success in health.”
Side events held during the meeting focused on migrant health, best practices in maternal health, healthy aging, mental health, adolescent and youth health, and public health approaches to violence, among others. Exhibits included an interactive display on disease elimination and a celebration of 25 years free of polio in the Americas.
Dr. Reina Roa Rodriguez of Panama was recognized with the PAHO Award for Health Services Management and Leadership, for her outstanding contributions to tobacco control, through her work in developing and implementing legislation that led her country to become the second in the Americas to ratify the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO/FCTC).
Minister of Health of Costa Rica Daniel Salas Peraza served as President of the 57th Directing Council following his election by ministers from the 35 PAHO Member States.