Regional Health Ministers to Discuss Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

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Dr. Carissa F. Etienne

WASHINGTON, Sep 26, CMC – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says Ministers of Health and other senior officials from countries and territories in the region will meet virtually on Monday and Tuesday to address critical health challenges facing the Region of the Americas amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley and Colombia’s President Ivan Duque are among regional leaders and officials scheduled to open PAHO’s virtual 58th Directing Council.

The Director of PAHO, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne; the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro; and the president of the Inter-American Development Bank, Luis Alberto Moreno, will also address the opening ceremony on Monday.

In addition, Costa Rica’s Minister of Health Daniel Salas and Alex Azar, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary will address the meeting, at which the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, will deliver a message.

“Discussions will focus mainly on countries’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact COVID-19 has had on national health systems and services, which will be addressed in-depth on Tuesday, 29 September,” PAHO said.

It said implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR) will also be discussed.

PAHO’s director will present her annual report for 2019, focusing on progress made in a range of technical cooperation strategies and actions.

“The report also reflects how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting longstanding health gains of the region, and these may be placed at risk for the future, including in such areas (as) immunization programs, the resiliency of health systems and progress made in communicable diseases,” PAHO said.

“Equally important are areas of emerging importance within the pandemic, such as mental health, noncommunicable diseases and digital health,” it added.

Delegates at the Directing Council will also discuss the region’s health achievements from 2014 to 2019, as a review of PAHO’s strategic plan for those years; and PAHO’s finances and programmatic priorities, among other topics.

PAHO’s Directing Council brings together ministers of health and high-level delegates from its member states to discuss and analyze regional health policies, and to set priorities for technical cooperation and cross-country collaboration.

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