Delegates to the 52nd PAHO Directing Council discussed the proposed new PAHO Strategic Plan 2014-2019, which sets out the Organization’s strategic direction over the next five years.
Daniel Walter, PAHO Director of Planning and Budget, presented the proposed plan to delegates on the second day of the Directing Council. He noted that the plan had been developed through an extensive consultative process involving 48 countries and over 1,000 individuals, including ministers of health as well as representatives of other government sectors and United Nations agencies. A Countries Consultative Group (CCG), appointed by the PAHO Executive Committee, provided strategic and technical input.
“This plan is truly a product of collaboration,” Walter said.
Under the theme “Championing Health: Sustainable Development and Equity,” the plan reflects the collective priorities of PAHO Member States as expressed in the consultative process and in the Health Agenda for the Americas 2008-2017. It is also aligned with WHO’s current program of work, which was approved by the 2013 World Health Assembly.
The pillars of the plan are universal health coverage, equity within and between countries, and attention to the social determinants of health, said Walter, adding that the latter is a cross-cutting strategic approach that seeks to involve other sectors in addressing the determinants of health and integrating health in their sectors as a key to overall development. During the consultative process, the plan was modified to include new indicators in areas including the heath of older adults, health inequities, and care for mothers and children, among others.
As proposed, the plan has 79 indicators and targets (fewer than in the previous PAHO strategic plan), with priority areas of action including reducing infant and child mortality, reducing premature deaths due to poor care, reversing the rising trend of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), and strengthening health systems. The plan also emphasizes the strengthening of health information systems to allow better monitoring of health progress and identification of gaps.
Although the plan is closely aligned with WHO’s current program of work, it has more emphasis on areas that are regional priorities, such as reducing the burden of Chagas and dengue, addressing the social determinants of health, and strengthening human resources for health. In addition, the plan allows for specific national priorities to be emphasized through the development of country cooperation strategies (CCSs).
In discussions following the presentation of the proposed plan, delegates praised PAHO’s Director and the Secretariat for the collaborative and inclusive consultative process through which it was developed. Delegates recognized the plan’s strengths but called for continuing efforts to refine both baseline and outcome indicators, as well as a proposed “priority stratification methodology,” among other elements.
Following the discussion, Etienne thanked the Member States for their collaboration and said she welcomed continuing efforts to refine it. She said the Secretariat would continue to work with PAHO member countries to improve the plan in coordination with the Executive Committee, including to refine the plan’s indicators.
“Indicators are important to communicate progress in plans’ implementation,” Etienne acknowledged. She also reminded delegates that implementation of the PAHO strategic plan would also be a joint effort. “We are jointly responsible for the results,” she said.
Etienne also said PAHO would continue to facilitate South-South, North-South, and even East-West cooperation as part of its technical cooperation efforts.
“You can be sure the Secretariat is going to come knocking at your doors,” she said. “I have no doubt that you have the expertise, the experience, and the knowledge that can enhance our technical cooperation. South-South cooperation is going to become increasingly what we rely upon to enhance our technical cooperation.”