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Approves "historic" plan of action on universal health coverage, among other actions

Washington, D.C., 7 October 2014 (PAHO/WHO) — Ministers of health from throughout the Americas pledged a series of actions last week to protect and promote health in their countries, during the 53rd Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The ministers and delegates from PAHO's 35 Member States adopted new regional strategies and plans of action addressing major public health concerns in the Region of the Americas. They include: 

The approval of the regional strategy for universal access to health and universal health coverage was a highlight of the five-day meeting. PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne praised the plan for its "historic significance" and for its potential to advance "the fundamental right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health."

"I believe that our experience this week reflects Pan American solidarity at its best, as we have come to agreement based on deeply shared values and historically shared lessons," Etienne told delegates, referring to the plan on universal health coverage. "Now that we have a clear way forward and a collective Pan American commitment to achieving this goal, we must roll up our sleeves, commit the necessary resources, and secure the same commitment from other sectors in order to realize this goal."

PAHO's next Directing Council meeting is scheduled for September-October 2015.

The PAHO Directing Council meets yearly—except for 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 debate regional health priorities.

PAHO, established in 1902, 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 peoples and serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO). For more information visit: