Washington, D.C., 26 September 2013 (PAHO/WHO) — Ministers of health from throughout the Americas are gathering this week at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO), to discuss the major health challenges facing the region and to set policies and priorities for PAHO's technical cooperation in its member countries.

The 52nd PAHO Directing Council, which meets from 30 Sept. to 4 Oct., will discuss agenda items including noncommunicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, which are increasing in countries throughout region; social protection in health and the goal of universal health coverage; human resources for health; and the use of scientific evidence in policymaking on immunization, among others.

The ministers will also examine what is known about an epidemic of chronic kidney disease of unknown causes that is affecting agricultural communities in Central America and discuss joint action to address the epidemic.

Delegates will also hear progress reports on PAHO-led efforts to improve neonatal health in the region, eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and congenital syphilis, reduce tobacco consumption and drug abuse, improve workers' health, and meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to health. There will also be a panel discussion on the status of neglected diseases in the Americas, with the participation of former Guatemalan president Álvaro Arzú, and special sessions on universal health coverage and the social determinants of health.

PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne, who took office in February, will present the organization's annual report, which highlights health achievements in member countries that were supported by PAHO technical cooperation during 2012-2013.

The 2013 Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Public Health will also be presented during the meeting by PAHO and the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF).

The PAHO Directing Council meets yearly—except for every fifth year, when the Pan American Sanitary Conference meets instead—to set the organization's policies and priorities. Delegates include health authorities from PAHO's 35 Member States and representatives of its four Associate Members, three Participating States, and two Observer States. In addition to setting mandates for PAHO's technical cooperation programs, the meeting also provides a forum for technical experts and government representatives to exchange information and ideas.

PAHO is the world's oldest international public health organization. It works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples.

What:             Opening of the 52nd PAHO Directing Council

          Monday, 30 September 2013, starting at 9:00 a.m.

Where:           PAHO Headquarters, 525 23rd Street, NW, Washington, D.C.


  • Javier Díaz, Minister of Health of Panama
  • Bill Corr, Deputy Director, Department of Health and Human Services of the United States
  • Héctor Salazar-Sánchez, Manager, Social Sector, Inter-American Development Bank
  • José Miguel Insulza, Secretary-General, Organization of American States
  • Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Carissa F. Etienne, Director, PAHO/WHO

    For coverage and updates on the 52nd Directing Council visit our blog: www.paho.org/blogs/dc52



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