Dr. Carissa Etienne will head the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) for another five years, after being endorsed for the post by the unanimous decision of the institution’s member states during the 29th Pan-American Health Conference. In her speech, the agency’s authority emphasized her commitment to promoting long and productive lives for all people in the region, with access to quality health services, medications, antibiotics, and vaccines to allow the population to live free from preventable diseases.
She also indicated four central points: sexual and reproductive health, healthy and nutritious food, the consumption of clean water, and proper sanitation. Etienne will start her new mandate on February 1, 2018, and she has already convened heads of state, officials, academics, civic society, and companies to accompany the health sector in a collective effort to improve health indices in Latin America.
The General Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) – Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – also made references in this regard and acknowledged a regional unit, a product of the physician’s leadership that allows her to react quickly to address significant crises (hurricanes, viruses, etc.). During her first mandate, the PAHO was able to achieve various milestones in the realm of health, such as the elimination of rubella and its birth defect syndrome in 2015.
During the 29th Pan-American Health Conference, the “Quinquennial Report of the Director 2013-2017” was also released and can be accessed here. This report describes the status of actions undertaken by the agency, which also released the Sustainable Health Agenda for the Americas 2018-2030 at the meeting. The document establishes goals ranging from universal health coverage to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
A strategy that seeks to guide national human resource policies to achieve universal health care and Sustainable Development Objectives, establish a plan of action to strengthen each country’s population’s vital statistics, and sustain the elimination of measles, rubella, and rubella birth defect syndrome was also adopted, together with a plan of action to strengthen tobacco control in the region and sustain a policy on ethnicity and health to improve the health of people of indigenous, African, and Romani descent.
Etienne emphasized the “critical need to reduce inequality in the region” and heard “the countries’ call for action on the imperative need to address, without delay, the issue of climate change and its effects on health.”