Ministers and other high-level delegates reach consensus on regional public health priorities and the most effective ways to address them

Washington, D.C., 2 October 2015 (PAHO/WHO) — Ministers of health from throughout the Americas pledged a series of actions this week to improve well-being and quality of life in the region, during the 54th 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. They include:

  • A plan of action on immunization that seeks to protect the historic achievements of eliminating smallpox, polio and rubella while reversing a recent increase in vaccination coverage gaps and tackling new immunization goals
  • A plan of action on antimicrobial resistance to prevent a resurgence of communicable diseases by reducing the misuse of antimicrobial drugs, expanding surveillance of drug resistance, improving infection prevention, ramping up education and awareness of the threat and increasing investment in new antibiotic drugs and diagnostics
  • A strategy and plan of action on strengthening health systems to address violence against women that promotes new political and financial commitments, more preparation for health providers to care for victims of violence, and improved research and programming on violence prevention
  • A plan of action for the prevention and control of tuberculosis, which seeks to accelerate advances against the disease by ramping up patient-centered care, expanding research on TB prevention and control, and mobilizing new funding and engagement for anti-TB efforts in the community
  • A plan of action for the prevention and control of viral hepatitis that paves the way for eliminating hepatitis B and C as public health problems in the Americas by 2030 through the creation of national plans for fighting the disease, increased access to medicines and control of their use and targeted efforts to address high risk and vulnerable groups
  • A strategy and plan of action on dementias in older persons that seeks to improve and expand care for older adults with dementias, prevent or delay their functional decline and dependence, and increase research
  • A strategy on health-related law to bring PAHO member countries' health-related laws and regulations into line with the highest international standards, and to provide technical advice by PAHO, as applicable, to countries that request help in using their legislative and regulatory powers effectively
  • A plan of action on workers' health that calls on PAHO member countries to take a series of measures over the next decade to safeguard the lives of workers and improve their well-being, with particular emphasis on workers in inequitable conditions of employment and those exposed to hazardous working conditions

"This week, you collectively committed to a series of important health goals as key priorities for all of our countries," PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne told delegates in the meeting's closing session. "Thanks to your hard work during this meeting, we now have consensus on how best to address some of our region's most pressing public health challenges."

PAHO's next Directing Council meeting is scheduled for September-October 2016.

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:


54th Directing Council
Documents of 54th Directing Council
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