Summits of the Americas Newsletter

February 2008 | Summits Online | Español

BACK TO NEWSLETTER: Youth and the Inter-American agenda | Ministerials: Agriculture - Labor - Education

XXVII Pan American Sanitary Conference

The XXVII Pan American Sanitary Conference, hosted by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), from October 1 to October 5 2007, in Washington, D.C., brought together the highest level health authorities in the Western Hemisphere.

During the opening session of the Conference, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, reminded the audience that in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in the sphere of health, it is pivotal to adopt an approach based on primary health care. The Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Albert Ramdin, reiterated the fact that health-related issues are often cross-border challenges, therefore a collective and coordinated response is the best option to address them. In this vein, he reiterated the willingness of the OAS to host a similar hemispheric level event.

The National Coordinator and Special Envoy for the Americas of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, which will host the Fifth Summit of the Americas in 2009, highlighted the importance of achieving high standards in the quality of health care and underscored the importance that must be placed on enhancing the functioning of health systems and increasing the current level of funding for health. These and other serious challenges which the region faces would require commitment on the part of the Heads of State of the Americas who would be participating at the Fifth Summit of the Americas.

The Strategic Plan of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau 2008-2012 was approved during the second day of the Conference. This document is PAHO’s highest level planning instrument since it outlines objectives and expected results for the next 5 years. The 16 Strategic Objectives identified in the Strategic Plan include the following: reducing the sanitary, social, and economic burden of communicable diseases; combating HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria; and reducing the health related consequences of disasters, crises and conflicts, and minimizing their social and economic impact.

At this event, progress reports on Avian Flu and Pandemic Influenza, the elimination of Rubella and Congenital Rubella Syndrome, and on the current malaria situation in the Americas were presented.  Efforts needed in the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other diseases, such as malaria, rubella, dengue and tuberculosis, remain insurmountable despite a reiteration of the commitment of Heads of State and Government to address these illnesses during the IV Summit of the Americas held in 2005 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

The importance of the availability of human resources in the health sector was brought to the forefront of the discussion by means of the adoption of the document entitled: Regional Human Resources Goals for Health: 2007-2015. Regional governments agreed to establish 20 precise goals to be reached by 2015, including: a human resource density level of 25 per 10,000; a ratio of qualified nurses to physician of at least 1:1 in all the countries of the Region; and the reduction by half of the gap of human resources distribution between rural and urban areas. As a member of the Joint Summit Working Group, PAHO is ideally positioned to promote the coordination needed and to share its best practices that would ensure the attainment of these goals by all Member States within the processes of the Summits of the Americas.

Please visit the PAHO website at for more information on this event or on health issues.

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