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Ministers of Health to discuss actions to improve health in the Region
Sep 24, 2016 - 10:08:42 PM

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The ministers will meet from September 26 to 30 at the 55th Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Washington, D.C. to seek agreement on new plans to eliminate malaria, and several neglected infectious diseases. They will also discuss a new framework to prevent and control HIV, and the diseases caused by arboviruses such as Zika and dengue.

Washington, D.C.,  (PAHO/WHO)—The Ministers of Health of the Americas will meet next week at the headquarters of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) to agree on policies and actions aimed at tackling the main health challenges facing the Region of the Americas, and to set the priorities for PAHO’s technical cooperation with its member countries.

During the 55th Directing Council, held Sept. 26-30, health authorities of the Americas will discuss and seek agreement on strategies and plans of action to prevent arboviral diseases such as Zika, chikungunya, and dengue, and to eliminate malaria and neglected infectious diseases, as well as to prevent and control HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. They will also address an action plan to reduce the risks presented by disasters and will discuss how to make health systems resilient to disasters. The delegations will also receive an update on the status of Zika virus in the Region.

The health authorities of the Region will discuss access to and rational use of strategic and high-cost drugs and other health technologies, and the health of migrants. They will also study the final report on the health-related targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Region.

PAHO/WHO Director Carissa F. Etienne, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell will speak during the opening session of the Directing Council on Monday, September 26, among other authorities.

Etienne will present the Organization’s annual report, which this year highlights the procedures by which PAHO and its member countries currently manage public health emergencies such as Zika virus, which was efficiently dealt, as well as PAHO’s technical cooperation programs aimed at maintaining strong and resilient health systems to advance toward the achievement of universal health.

Uruguay will receive special recognition during this Directing Council for the country’s leadership in defense of its tobacco control policy. In July 2016, the country’s government won an international lawsuit filed against it by the Philip Morris International tobacco company.

Several side events will be held this week on issues such as the role of public investment in universal health, the public health dimension of the global drug problem, and food labeling. Also, a publication will be launched on the economic dimensions of noncommunicable diseases in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Photography exhibits will also be presented, one reflecting experiences in the fight against neglected infectious diseases such as trachoma (river blindness) in remote areas of the Americas, and another documenting the Mais Médicos (More Physicians) program in Brazil, in which Cuban medical teams participate.

The PAHO Directing Council meets annually––except in years when the Pan American Sanitary Conference (supreme authority of the WHO Regional Office) is held––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 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 on health in the Region.

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