PAHO Director cites “a clear Pan American consensus” in favor of universal health coverage, as 52nd Directing Council ends

Dr. Carissa F. Etienne“A clear Pan American consensus has emerged that universal health coverage is essential if we are to improve human health and well-being; to eradicate or eliminate diseases; to reduce morbidity and mortality gaps; and to especially reduce those inequities that perpetuate human suffering in our countries, thus inhibiting the full realization of human dignity and human potential and preventing the full participation of each and every person in our region’s development”, said PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne in her closing remarks for the 52nd PAHO Directing Council meeting.
She said universal health coverage is the centerpiece of the new strategic plan approved this week to guide PAHO’s work over the next five years.

“As we move forward under this plan, we will keep our eyes focused on the future, but without forgetting our unfinished agenda. Together, we will make good use of the time remaining to meet the Millennium Development Goals, and we will continue to aggressively address neglected diseases, while we grapple simultaneously with the new challenges presented by the chronic diseases as well as those new and re-emerging infectious diseases.  We in the Secretariat will walk with you, our Member States, and we are confident that you will continue to guide, support and accompany us on this well- travelled road.”

“Our Organization will continue to thrive, grow and evolve in this twenty-first century as a result of the overwhelming fountain of new ideas generated by you, our Member States,” she said. “During our journey this week, we demonstrated that we were not afraid to anticipate the future as we grappled with the pressing issues of the post-2015 development agenda and recognized that health must be a foundation stone of this architecture, for unhealthy human populations cannot effectively contribute to the sustainable development of our countries.”

“What a week we have had!” Etienne told delegates in the final session of the 52nd Directing Council. “We were privileged to witness democracy, solidarity and Pan Americanism in action as we collectively grappled with sensitive but vital issues such as the need to ensure equitable access to health care for our vulnerable populations such as the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities as well as the need to ensure that we in the Americas continue to protect our families against vaccine-preventable diseases through the timely provision of high-quality, affordable vaccines made available via the PAHO Revolving Fund.”

Etienne said she had heard new and innovative ideas for improving public health work in the Americas, “ranging from the use of sand art to communicate the human impact of neglected diseases, to the application of new medical and information technologies for improved health-care delivery. “

“I saw passion coupled with evidence-based decision making, and I have absolutely no doubt that this indomitable spirit of cooperation and collaboration will take the Organization progressively forward as we encounter future challenges on this ever-changing global stage on which we work,” Etienne said.

She thanked Member States and PAHO staff for their work in preparing and carrying out the meeting.

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