Caribbean health ministers joined their counterparts from the Americas today, Monday, for a week-long meeting to discuss health priorities and plans of action at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
The PAHO 57th Directing Council will seek agreement on regional strategies and plans that address the common and most pressing health challenges of the Americas.
These include a plan to reduce heart disease by eliminating industrially produced trans-fatty acids, a strategy to make access to organ, tissue and cell transplants more equitable, and a plan to improve the quality of care in health services delivery.
The Dominian-born PAHO Director, Dr Carissa F Etienne, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Bahamas Minister of Health, Duane Sands, will be among the speakers at the opening ceremony.
Dr Etienne plans to launch PAHO’s new 2020-2025 strategic plan, which builds on region wide improvements in public sanitation, housing, nutrition, and health care while addressing persisting inequities in health, particularly for populations living in conditions of vulnerability.
PAHO said the new strategic plan also sets out goals and action for reducing non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which are now the top causes of death and illness throughout the Americas. Taking lessons from past public health emergencies such as the 2009 influenza pandemic and the Zika epidemic, the new plan also seeks to build countries’ preparedness for disease outbreaks and other health emergencies.
Delegates will also consider a plan aimed at improving the health of indigenous, Afro-descendant and Roma populations, whose numbers exceed 170 million in the Americas.