Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and HSS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell will speak at the opening session of the Pan American Health Organization's 54th Directive Council. During the Sept. 28—Oct. 2 meeting, ministers of health will plan action to tackle health challenges ranging from violence against women and growing antibiotic resistance to the prevention of tuberculosis and hepatitis.

Washington, D.C., 24 September 2015 (PAHO/WHO) - Health ministers from throughout the Americas will gather next week at the headquarters of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO), to seek agreement on plans for tackling major health challenges facing the region.

President Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HSS) Sylvia Mathews Burwell will speak during the opening session on Monday, Sept. 28, of PAHO's 54th Directing Council. Delegates to the Sept. 28-Oct. 2 meeting will discuss public health priorities and technical cooperation between their countries and PAHO. Other speakers at the opening session will include Secretary General Luis Almagro of the Organization of American States (OAS) and PAHO/WHO Director Carissa F. Etienne.

During five days of meetings, participants will debate strategies and plans of action to strengthen the capacity of public health systems to address issues ranging from violence against women and dementia among the elderly to immunization and growing antimicrobial resistance. Other areas of focus will include health-related legislation, workers' health and prevention and control of tuberculosis and viral hepatitis.

Delegates will also hear progress reports on PAHO-led efforts to address the chikungunya virus, road safety, dengue in the Americas and chronic kidney disease in agricultural communities in Central America.

Honduras's first lady, Ana García de Hernández, will speak during a Sept. 28 side event on health, the environment and the new Sustainable Development Goals. On Sept. 29, representatives of PAHO, the Carter Center and other supporters of the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas (OEPA) will call for a final push toward the elimination of river blindness in the Americas. And on Sept. 30, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan will be present for the launch of a new global report on healthy aging.

PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne will present the organization's annual report, which highlights recent public health milestones including the elimination of rubella and congenital rubella in the Americas, as well as a regional commitment to achieve universal coverage and universal access to health.

In addition, former minister of health of El Salvador María Isabel Rodríguez will be named a Public Health Hero of the Americas for her contributions to better health in her country and the region.

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).


54th Directing Council
Documents of 54th Directing Council
PAHO Governing Bodies
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