PAHO says it has led regional response to COVID-19 while striving to protect long-term health gains

The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) says it has provided regional leadership and coordination of the COVID-19 response while helping member countries protect gains in other vital areas, including immunisation, prevention of non-communicable diseases, and expanded access to quality health care.

These and other highlights of PAHO’s technical cooperation between mid-2019 and mid-2020 are described in the 2020 Annual Report of the Director “Saving Lives and Improving Health and Well-Being”.

PAHO Director Carissa F Etienne presented the report today to health authorities from throughout the Americas who are meeting virtually this week for the 58th PAHO Directing Council. 

The report noted that COVID-19 “has affected health, the economy, and the way of life in almost every country” in the Americas. It said the pandemic exposed severe inequities in and among countries and highlighted the particular vulnerabilities of certain population groups.

The report “laid bare profound structural weaknesses within health and social protection mechanisms in the region, highlighting the need for substantive reform and actions to ensure that countries continue toward the achievement of the ambitious goal of universal health by 2030”.

Against this backdrop, the report summarised PAHO’s strategies, interventions, and achievements in its main areas of technical cooperation during the reporting period. These areas include health systems and services; communicable diseases and environmental determinants of health; health emergencies; family, health promotion, and life course; non communicable diseases and mental health; and evidence and intelligence for action in health.

The report further highlighted special efforts to ensure improved health for all both during and beyond the pandemic, especially for those in conditions of vulnerability, reflecting the organisation’s overarching commitment to “leave no one behind”. It also described PAHO’s efforts to improve its internal efficiency and ensure continued transparency and accountability in all its operations.  

“The health, social, and economic impacts of the pandemic will have far-reaching effects on progress for the achievement of national, sub regional, regional, and global health goals; on health financing and resource mobilization; and on our efforts and aspirations for health development with equity,” said Etienne in presenting the report. 

“We fully recognize that massive and sustained interventions will be required—in both the immediate and foreseeable future—to control and contain COVID-19, to tackle increasing poverty levels, to reduce health and social inequalities and, very importantly, to position health at the centre of equitable and sustainable development,” she added. 


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