Washington, DC, September 29, 2017 (PAHO / WHO) - The 29th Pan American Sanitary Conference of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) ended  today with the approval of a new health agenda for the Americas, and a series of strategies and plans of action to face health challenges in coming years.

The Sustainable Health Agenda for the Americas 2018-2030 includes goals ranging from achieving universal health coverage to ending the HIV /AIDS epidemic.  They cover areas deemed essential for strengthening countries' health systems, with the ultimate goal of guaranteeing that all people have access to the health care they need when they need it, without fear of financial difficulty.

PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne welcomed regional agreements to strengthen health statistics, improve tobacco control, and maintain the elimination of measles, rubella and congenital rubella, highlighting the "critical need to reduce inequalities in region. She said she heeded the call of the countries on the urgent need to address the issue of climate change and its effects on health.

Ministers and delegates from the 35 member states of PAHO adopted the following strategies and action plans:

A new PAHO report on ‘Health in the Americas+ 2017' launched at the Conference shows improvements in health, but highlights new challenges related to emerging and noncommunicable diseases.

PAHO's Director presented a 5-year accountability report highlighting major health progress and challenges in the Americas during 2013-2017 and the role of PAHO's technical cooperation in those developments.

During the meeting, Dr. Etienne, a native of Dominica, was re-elected for a second five-year term as PAHO Director, starting in February 2018. She told health ministers news of her election brought a welcome lift to residents of Dominica, which was devastated by Hurricane Irma.

A series of exhibits and side events were dedicated to sharing experiences on topics including equity in health, climate change, migrant health, better chronic disease management by health services, and the use of regulatory policies to promote healthy eating. Costa Rican doctor Stella Bolaños Varela received the PAHO Award for Management and Leadership in Health Services 2017.

Paraguay's Minister of Health, Dr Antonio Barrios, chaired the Conference and the new Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, participated for the first time in this regional meeting of health ministers. Dr Tedros stressed the importance of global health security, the need to achieve universal health for all, and the challenges that must be overcome in the fight against noncommunicable diseases.

The hurricanes that devastated parts of the Caribbean and the United States, and the earthquakes that caused deaths in Mexico, also occupied a central place in the debates. PAHO "stands in solidarity with you as you rebuild your lives, homes, livelihoods, physical infrastructure and the mental health of your people," Etienne said, addressing the delegations of affected countries at the close of the Conference.

For more information, photos and videos on the 29th Pan American Sanitary Conference, visit this link.