Washington, D.C., 21 November 2011 (PAHO/WHO) — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) signed an agreement today with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) that provides $5 million to improve health in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a focus on maternal and neonatal health and tuberculosis (TB).

Under the agreement, USAID will provide an estimated $5,041,913 over the next three years to support PAHO/WHO technical cooperation in the following areas:

  • Improving health services for TB and maternal and neonatal health, through the use of evidence-based neonatal interventions, improved planning and policies, stepped-up responses to multi-drug-resistant (MDR) and extremely multi-drug-resistant (XDR) TB, and stronger routine systems for implementing DOTS (directly observed treatment short-course) for TB.
  • Building competencies in the health workforce, with a focus on midwifery, prevention and control of MDR and XDR-TB, and health sector leadership.
  • Strengthening health information systems, including systems that incorporate gender and ethnic perspectives as well as systems for surveillance of congenital syphilis diagnosis and treatment, and for epidemiological surveillance of MDR-TB.
  • Improving the capacity of national health authorities to carry out essential public health functions, including by monitoring and evaluating their functions and performance.

The agreement also provides support for efforts to eliminate onchocerciasis (river blindness) and for prevention and control of malaria in Haiti.

Today's agreement builds on a 20-year partnership between USAID and PAHO/WHO that has produced significant progress in areas including essential public health functions, health systems and services, health information systems, and surveillance and healthcare practices in maternal health, among other areas.

In the area of newborn health, for example, USAID support was critical to the development of the Interagency Neonatal Strategic Consensus and PAHO's Regional Strategy and Action Plan within the Continuum of Maternal, Newborn and Child Care. Based on these frameworks, national neonatal action plans have been developed and are being implemented in countries including Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

"We are extremely grateful to the United States for this important funding, but also for the very close relationship we have with USAID, which has made this such an exceptional collaboration," said PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses. "Both technically and in terms of funding, it is truly a pillar of PAHO's strategic plan."