14 June 2022 (PAHO) –The need to strengthen health systems post-pandemic gained momentum with the adoption on Friday of the Action Plan on Health and Resilience at the IX Summit of the Americas. As the health organization of the Inter-American System, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) participated actively to promote the inclusion of health in the political agenda of the Summit.
Drawing on the lessons from COVID-19, Heads of States and Governments of the region committed to the development of several actions to strengthen health by 2030. These include, among others:
- Expanding equitable access to comprehensive quality health services based on primary care to move toward universal health.
- Strengthening training and education in the fields of medicine, public health, nutrition, and biomedical science research.
- Increasing and improving public financing for health and strengthening activities to boost the regional development of health technologies.
- Strengthening regional and global health security and public health emergency preparedness, including capacities of health authorities, infrastructure and national epidemiological surveillance systems to prevent, prepare for, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks.
- Redoubling efforts to accelerate achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including target 3.4: reduce by one-third premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), a leading cause of death in several countries in the region, especially in the Caribbean.
The United States also announced the launch of Americas Health Corps – Fuerza de Salud de las Americas during the Summit, a joint US-PAHO initiative to train 500,000 public health workers throughout the region over the next five years.
PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne welcomed the commitment from regional leaders to the health action plan. “The pandemic has also demonstrated what can be done when we make health a priority,” she wrote in a recent commentary in the US digital newspaper The Hill.
“COVID-19 is the latest reminder that health, security and economic stability are regional concerns, not national ones. To get back on track, we must work together.”
Leaders at the Summit also adopted a Regional Agenda for Digital Transformation, which promotes the use of digital technologies in the health sector to improve patient accessibility, process efficiency, and service delivery. They also signed off on documents related to the environment, clean energy transition, democratic governance and migration.
PAHO participated at the highest level in several events during the Summit to keep health as a priority. These included the launch of the US Department of State’s “Economic and Health Dialogue of the Americas”, the Young Americas Forum session “Health and Resilience in the Americas: Innovation in Action”, and the Canada-organized “High Level Panel on Women’s Leadership: Advancing Gender, Equality and Democracy in the Americas”.
PAHO also led a roundtable on “Investing in Health to Build Back Better” to discuss how to ramp up health financing and policies post-pandemic. Panelists included the Minister of Health of Brazil, Marcelo Queiroga, the Minister of Health of Grenada, Hon. Nickolas Steele, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama, Erika Mouynes, as well as representatives from civil society, the private sector and youth.
During the Summit, the PAHO Director held meetings with the President of Costa Rica, and with the presidents of the Caribbean Development Bank (CAB), the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) and Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), as well as with the CEO of Pro Mujer – a nonprofit that provides health and education programs to low-income women in Latin America.