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PAHO Summons Regional Health Ministers

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

The Pan-American Health Organisation will convene its 60th Directing Council with Ministers of Health and other high-level technocrats from the Americas on September 25 to 29 in Washington DC. The session meeting is seeking to reach agreements to prevent and control non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in children, adolescents, and young people; and, to reduce the suicide rate.

Discussions will, therefore, focus on a variety of strategies, resolutions, and policies aimed at strengthening the Region’s health workforce in relation to its capacity to prevent and control NCDs and improve mental health in the aftermath of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 19 (SARS CoVi-19). Suicide rates in the Americas increased by 17% between 2019 and 2020 according to PAHO.

Dr the Honourable Christopher Tufton

Opening Ceremony

The Opening Ceremony at 9.00 a.m. will be addressed by Dr the Honourable, Christopher Tufton, Jamaica’s Minister of Health, and outgoing President of the Directing Council. PAHO’s Director Dr Jarbas Barbosa will also address the Opening Ceremony. Dr Barbosa will use the opportunity to present the Americas performance report focusing on health systems recovery post the Corona Virus 19 outbreak, as well as progress and achievements.

Discussion Spotlights

Other discussions will focus on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. PAHO intends to relaunch its 2019 Elimination Initiative to reinforce the political commitment of countries in the Region to get back on track to end more than 35 communicable diseases and related health conditions by 2030. In addition, there will be briefing sessions on the need to accelerate NCD prevention through equitable primary health care.

Reports on the elimination of neglected infectious diseases, tobacco control, and chronic kidney disease are expected to be tabled. The PAHO Award for Health Services Management and Leadership will also be presented.

The Jamaican Situation

In Jamaica, there were 51 reported cases of suicide in 2021, 18.6% more than 2020. Males accounted for 82.6% of cases with hanging continuing to be the most common method (82.4%). Of the reported cases, 19.6% occurred in the parish of St. Catherine and 15.7% in St. Andrew. More females, however, attempted suicide during the same period, accounting for 67.4% of the reported 249 cases.

Where NCDs are concerned, Jamaica continues to register increases in the rates of infection with an average 26% of the population reporting at least one NCD. Females reported at twice the rate of males but NCDs remain the leading cause of death for both sexes.

The GOJ through the MOHW continue to build on the continued co-operation with PAHO to implement health programmes and protect gains already made in the reduction of risk factors for NCDs, the promotion of mental health, the reduction of substance abuse, and diminished stigmatisation. More recently, through the Health System Strengthening Programme (HSSP), funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IBD), the MOHW announced significant rehabilitation of 13 health facilities in three parishes as it continues to improve the primary health care system for the care and management of NCDs.

Directing Council

The Directing Council (DC) is one of the governing bodies of PAHO and meets annually during the years when the supreme governing body, the Conference does not meet, acting on behalf of the Conference between sessions of the Conference. The DC brings together the highest health authorities of the Americas to discuss and analyse policies and priorities for technical co-operation and collaboration among countries.

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