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Ministers of health convene to set priorities for Pan American health cooperation


September 26, 2013
By Mari-Len De

Ministers of health from throughout the Americas gathered 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 met from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4,
discussed topics a number of topics including: non-communicable diseases such as
cancer, heart disease and diabetes, which are increasing in countries
throughout the 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 other things.

The
ministers also examined what is known about an epidemic of chronic
kidney disease of unknown causes that is affecting agricultural
communities in Central America and discussed joint action to address the
epidemic, the PAHO said.

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Delegates heard 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. The forum conference also featured 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, presented 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 was also presented during the meeting by PAHO and the Pan American Health and
Education Foundation (PAHEF).

The PAHO Directing Council meets
yearly – except 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 people.

For more information on the 52nd Directing Council visit www.paho.org/blogs/dc52