Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa F. Etienne presented her 2013 Annual Report to ministers of health at the 52nd PAHO Directing Council, saying that “the people of the Americas are healthier and stronger, by almost every measure,” thanks to their health leadership and collaboration within and across the region’s countries.
In presenting the report, Etienne highlighted some of the key health achievements in member countries during 2012-2013 that were supported by PAHO, as well as highlights of the organization’s technical cooperation in the countries and at the regional level.
Topping the list of health achievements supported with PAHO technical cooperation during 2012-2013, said Etienne, was Colombia’s becoming the first country in the world to eliminate onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness. Other achievements include the launch in 2012 of the new Regional Coalition for Water and Sanitation to Eliminate Cholera in Hispaniola by PAHO, UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Spain’s international cooperation agency, AECID, and the Inter-American Association of Sanitary Engineering and Environmental Sciences (AIDIS). The coalition has provided technical support for Haiti and the Dominican Republic’s cholera elimination efforts and is working to mobilize resources for these efforts from the international community.
Other highlights of the Director’s report include the approval by Member States in 2012 of a regional strategy on NCDs, the launch in 2013 of the Women’s Cancer Initiative, and a new multi-year plan to cut dietary salt consumption to reduce hypertension and cardiovascular disease, launched by the SaltSmart consortium, a PAHO-led initiative.
The report also describes lessons learned and remaining challenges facing PAHO going forward. Etienne told members of the Directing Council that PAHO is not only ready but “eager” to take on the many challenges facing the organization and its member countries.
“PAHO, as do our many partners around the world, faces the complex challenge of advancing health and sustainable development, with constrained resources,” she said. “We know that we must find new ways and develop new alliances in order to continue to serve our Member States well, and to remain a positive force for global health and for health within the Region. I am confident that our Organization can rise to meet the challenge.”
The Annual Report of the Director 2013 covers the last seven months of the organization’s former administration, led by Mirta Roses Periago, and the first five months under Etienne, who took office in February 2013.