Senior officials of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) are set to spend three days in a series of meetings with high-level staff of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and World Health Organization collaborating centers in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses Periago gave the keynote address on "Innovation for Universal Access to Health: A Regional Perspective" at the opening dinner of the Gates-sponsored Global Health Product Development Forum on April 30. PAHO and the United States Food and Drug Administration are hosting a special Forum session to introduce PAHO's new Regional Platform on Access and Innovation for Health Technologies, prior to its official launching at PAHO's Washington, D.C., headquarters on 7 May.

The PAHO-Gates dialogue will build on existing partnerships and maximize complementary roles in addressing public health issues in the Americas.

On 4 May, Dr. Roses, PAHO Deputy Director Dr. Jon K. Andrus, and PAHO Assistant Director Dr. Socorro Gross Galiano will update the Gates Foundation's Global Programs leadership on PAHO's key public health initiatives and identify potential areas for new or strengthened collaboration, including specific opportunities for South-South cooperation, as well as support to countries for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). One critical area is the development of a strategic agenda to expedite the successful and sustainable adaptation of innovative solutions in the areas of medicines, vaccines, and other health technologies.

Bill Gates Sr. (father of Bill) will join PAHO and Gates officials in a debriefing session following his visit this week to Honduras to launch Vaccination Week in the Americas along with President Porfirio Lobos.

Other institutions on the agenda include the Program for Applied Technology in Health (PATH), the Urban Health Center of Indigenous People, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre and PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centers at the University of Washington, which focus on issues including sexual and reproductive health, vaccinology, health metrics and evaluation, and AIDS and sexually transmitted infections.