The Minister of Health, Delmaude Ryan, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Camille Thomas-Gerald, and Chief Medical Officer (ag), Dr. Sharra Greenaway-Duberry, are among Health Ministers and other high-level delegates from the Americas and the Caribbean, meeting in Washington DC for the Pan American Health Organisation’s (PAHO) 57th Directing Council and 71st Session of the Regional Committee of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the Americas, from September 30 to October 4, 2019.
The week-long meeting has brought together leading authorities from North, South and Central America, including the Caribbean who will be expected to agree on regional strategies and plans aimed at addressing their common and most demanding health challenges. These include a plan to reduce heart disease by eliminating industrially produced trans-fatty acids; a strategy to make access to organ, tissue and cell transplants more equitable; a plan of action to strengthen information systems for health 2019-2023; a Strategy and Plan of Action on Health Promotion within the Context of the Sustainable Development Goals 2019-2030; and a plan to improve the quality of care in health services delivery.
On Tuesday October 1, the Ministers of Health agreed on a new PAHO-led initiative to collectively eliminate more than 30 communicable diseases in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2030.
Honourable Delmaude Ryan speaking on behalf of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories, endorsed the resolution on PAHO’s Disease Elimination Initiative. During her endorsement remarks, Minister Ryan highlighted the UK territories that have successfully eliminated mother to child transmission of HIV and congenital syphilis; Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Montserrat were the first Overseas Territories to be validated by the WHO in 2017. In April 2019, Montserrat was approved by the WHO for achieving maintenance of validation for the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
This new PAHO-led initiative is regarded as one of the highlights of the meeting. The PAHO said the diseases and conditions targeted for elimination include HIV and syphilis, hepatitis B and C, yellow fever, Chagas disease, malaria, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, geohelminthiasis, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, fascioliasis, trachoma, leprosy, yaws, tuberculosis, cholera, plague, human rabies and diphtheria.
More than a hundred delegates and civil society representatives are participating in the meeting. Minister Ryan noted that Montserrat’s attendance at these meetings is important as they provide support for our health policy steer, development and implementation.
PAHO’s Directing Council meetings provide a forum for discussion and joint action on health issues of regional concern, providing crucial guidance for PAHO’s technical cooperation with its member countries.
Prior to this meeting, the Permanent Secretary and the CMO (ag) attended the technical meetings of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD).