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The ministers will meet from September 26 to 30 at the 55th Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Washington, D.C. to seek agreement on new plans to eliminate malaria, and several neglected infectious diseases. They will also discuss a new framework to prevent and control HIV, and the diseases caused by arboviruses such as Zika and dengue.

Washington, D.C., September 23, 2016 (OPS/OMS)- The Ministers of Health of the Americas will meet next week at the headquarters of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) to agree on policies and actions aimed at tackling the main health challenges facing the Region of the Americas, and to set the priorities for PAHO's technical cooperation with its member countries.

During the 55th Directing Council, held Sept. 26-30, health authorities of the Americas will discuss and seek agreement on strategies and plans of action to prevent arboviral diseases such as Zika, chikungunya, and dengue, and to eliminate malaria and neglected infectious diseases, as well as to prevent and control HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. They will also address an action plan to reduce the risks presented by disasters and will discuss how to make health systems resilient to disasters. The delegations will also receive an update on the status of Zika virus in the Region.

The health authorities of the Region will discuss access to and rational use of strategic and high-cost drugs and other health technologies, and the health of migrants. They will also study the final report on the health-related targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Region.

PAHO/WHO Director Carissa F. Etienne, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell will speak during the opening session of the Directing Council on Monday, September 26, among other authorities.

Etienne will present the Organization's annual report, which this year highlights the procedures by which PAHO and its member countries currently manage public health emergencies such as Zika virus, which was efficiently dealt, as well as PAHO's technical cooperation programs aimed at maintaining strong and resilient health systems to advance toward the achievement of universal health.

Uruguay will receive special recognition during this Directing Council for the country's leadership in defense of its tobacco control policy. In July 2016, the country's government won an international lawsuit filed against it by the Philip Morris International tobacco company.

Several side events will be held this week on issues such as the role of public investment in universal health, the public health dimension of the global drug problem, and food labeling. Also, a publication will be launched on the economic dimensions of noncommunicable diseases in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Photography exhibits will also be presented, one reflecting experiences in the fight against neglected infectious diseases such as trachoma (river blindness) in remote areas of the Americas, and another documenting the Mais Médicos (More Physicians) program in Brazil, in which Cuban medical teams participate.

The PAHO Directing Council meets annually--except in years when the Pan American Sanitary Conference (supreme authority of the WHO Regional Office) is held--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 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 ideas on health in the Region.

WHAT: Opening of the 55th PAHO Directing Council

WHEN: Monday, September 26, 2016, 9 a.m.

WHERE: PAHO Headquarters, 525 23rd Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

Link to join virtually:


  • Carissa F. Etienne, Director of PAHO
  • Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO
  • Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services of the United States
  • Elvia Violeta Menjívar, Minister of Health of El Salvador, outgoing President of the Directing Council
  • Ferdinando Regalia, Chief of the Division of Health and Social Protection of the Inter-American Development Bank


55th PAHO Directing Council
Documents of the 55th PAHO Directing Council
PAHO Governing Bodies #PAHODC55

Side events

Monday, September 26, 2016

5:30-6:00 p.m. Special recognition of Uruguay for its defense of its tobacco control policies, Room A

  • Carissa F. Etienne, PAHO Director
  • Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General
  • Jorge Basso, Minister of Public Health of Uruguay

* Transmission:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

12:30-2:00 p.m. Together for food labeling: The Americas unite to face the challenges, Room B
  • Carissa F. Etienne, PAHO Director
  • Margarita Guevara,Minister of Public Health of Ecuador
  • Fabio Da Silva,PAHO Regional Advisor on Nutrition
* Transmission:

5:30-6:30 p.m. Investing in universal health: The role of public investment in health, Room B
  • Carissa F. Etienne, PAHO Director
  • Carmen Castillo Taucher, Minister of Health of Chile
  • Lucrecia Hernández Mack, Minister of Public Health and Social Welfare of Guatemala
  • Rufus Ewing, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Daniel Titelman, Director of Economic Development, ECLAC
  • James Fitzgerald, Director of the Department of Health Systems and Services, PAHO/WHO
  • Camilo Cid,PAHO Regional Advisor on Health Economics and Financing

* Transmission:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

12:30-2:00 p.m.: The public health dimension of the global drug problem following UNGASS 2016, and the role of scientific evidence, Room C

  • Carissa F. Etienne, PAHO Director
  • Winston de la Haye, Chief Medical Officer of Jamaica
  • Luis Alfonso de Alba, OAS Ambassador of Mexico
  • Ruben Baler,National Institute on Drug Abuse, United States
  • Anselm Hennis, Director of the Department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, PAHO

* Transmission:

6:00-7:30 p.m. The economic dimensions of noncommunicable diseases in Latin America and the Caribbean, Room B

  • Carissa F. Etienne,PAHO Director
  • André Médici, Health Economist, World Bank
  • Anselm Hennis,Director of the Department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, PAHO