Health authorities will meet from September 23 to 27 in Washington D.C, to discuss plans to reduce the shortage in health personnel, lower the burden of cervical cancer, and improve the health of women, children and adolescents. In addition to this, the President of Uruguay, Tabaré Vázquez will be named Health Hero of the Americas.

Washington, D.C., 20 September 2018 (PAHO/WHO) – Ministers of Health and senior authorities from member countries and territories of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) will meet from September 23 to 27 in Washington, D.C, United States, to establish priorities and plans to address the main health challenges faced by the Region of the Americas.

During the 56th Directing Council, health authorities of the Americas will discuss a series of plans to reduce the shortage in health personnel, lower the number of cases of, and deaths from cervical cancer, and improve the health of women, children and adolescents. They will also discuss action plans to improve vector control in order to prevent diseases such as malaria, Zika and Chagas disease.

The President of Uruguay, Tabaré Vázquez, will be named Health Hero of the Americas, PAHO’s highest distinction, in recognition of his leadership in the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, as well as for his actions to ensure tobacco control in his Uruguay, which has been an example to the world.

At the opening ceremony of the Directing Council, which will take place on Sunday 23 September, the Director of PAHO, Carissa F. Etienne, will take the floor, as will the Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Néstor Méndez; the Secretary of Health of Honduras, Octavio Sánchez; and the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar (to be confirmed).

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the First International Conference on Primary Health Care, in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan in 1978, where countries committed to achieving “health for all”, the Director of PAHO will also present her annual report which, this year, focuses on primary health care.

In the framework of this, delegates will receive a preview of the report from the High-level Commission that proposes solutions to expand health access and coverage in the region of the Americas by 2030, leaving no one behind. The High-level Commission of the “Universal Health in the 21st Century: 40 Years of Alma-Ata” Regional Forum is chaired by the former President of Chile, Michelle Bachellet. A parallel event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Declaration of Alma-Ata will also be held.

Health authorities will also receive a preview of a report on health inequalities in the region, which was prepared by the Commission on Equity and Health Inequalities, chaired by Sir Michael Marmot, from the Institute of Health Equity at University College London.

Various other side events will be held in parallel to the Directing Council. These include an event to discuss issues related to the elimination of trans fats, and the 40-year anniversary of the Declaration of Alma-Ata. The application of International Health Regulations (IHR), road safety, maternal mortality, climate change and bioethics, among other topics, will also be discussed.

The Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) brings together ministers of health and high-level delegates of the PAHO/WHO Member States in Washington, D.C. (USA) to discuss and analyze regional health policies and set priorities for technical cooperation and collaboration among countries.


—  56th Directing Council documents
—  56th Directing Council