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PAHO Director Says Americas Not On Track To Meet Maternal Health & Mortality Targets

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Speaking at a high-level event during the United Nations General Assembly side, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa F. Etienne highlighted the aggravating effect of COVID-19 on the health of women, children and adolescents in the region, which have placed these groups at greater risk and threaten to reverse gains made in the past decades.

“It’s clear that we must act now to protect the future of our Region,” Dr. Etienne said today in a video message to the 11th Accountability Breakfast, organized by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH).

Widespread disruptions to maternal and newborn care left expectant mothers and their babies without support during one of the most critical periods of a woman’s life and a baby’s growth,” the Director said in her statement.

Young women were left particularly vulnerable, she added, as “disruptions to family planning services fueled one of the largest increases in teenage pregnancy we’ve seen in more than a decade.” The Americas have the second highest rate of adolescent pregnancy in the world.

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The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) side event, Tackling Conflict, Climate Change and COVID-19: A Triple Threat to Women, Children and Adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean, brought together high-level speakers to review the impact of current crises and the way forward to address these.

The PAHO Director participated in a panel alongside Kersti Kaljulaid, UN Secretary-General’s Global Advocate for Every Woman, Every Child and Former President of Estonia, and Martin Chungong, Secretary-General, Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

Participants also included Helen Clark, PMNCH Board Chair and Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health of Jamaica and Rossana Briceno, Chair of the Spouses of CARICOM Leaders Action Network.

Dr. Etienne also warned that gender-based violence is on the rise in the Americas, and that school interruptions triggered “the worst educational crisis we have ever seen”, as “our kids missed more school days than children in any other region.”

Children and teens across our region are at risk of becoming the generation that missed out on the health, education and economic opportunities they needed to reach their fullest potential,” she cautioned.

Looking forward, the Director reminded the panel that Latin America and the Caribbean have made remarkable progress in recent decades to reduce childhood mortality and expand access to health services, and urged leaders to “lean on these past experiences and refocus our efforts as we rebuild from this pandemic.”

This includes stepping up efforts to restore children’s annual check-ups and routine vaccinations from preventable diseases like polio, measles and rubella, which have lagged during the pandemic.

She also called for comprehensive, evidence-based programs to empower schools, communities and families to care for young people so that these can thrive, and urged countries to “bring women, children and adolescents to the table and work with them to shape the interventions that are intended to reach them.”

As part of PAHO’s participation at the UNGA, interim Assistant Director Marcos Espinal also joined a high-level Round Table on Global Solutions to Face Infectious Diseases on 21 September, organized by the Wellcome Trust.

Established in 2005 and hosted by the World Health Organization, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) is the world’s largest alliance for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and well-being. PMNCH brings together 1,250 partners, including governments, NGOs, adolescent and youth groups, private sector organizations, health professional associations, academic and research institutions, inter-governmental organizations, and UN agencies.

SOURCE: Pan American Health Organization

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St. Lucia

PAHO Director Reflects on Momentous Decade of Championing Universal Health

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PAHO Director reflects on momentous decade
.

At the opening of this week’s 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference today, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa F. Etienne acknowledged significant gains in health in the last decade but urged countries to address current challenges, including immunization gaps that have “rolled back nearly three decades of progress on childhood vaccinations in recent years.”

“Over the last decade, I’ve seen countries translate the idea of universal health care into practical policies”, the PAHO Director said, citing how local, regional, and national governments are working together to achieve “our shared agenda for health in the Americas and the Sustainable Development goals.”

PAHO was able to expand technical cooperation to increase health system resilience and disaster preparedness, which “proved instrumental in our responses to Zika, COVID and monkeypox,” Dr. Etienne said.

While collaboration has had real impact in reducing inequality, Dr. Etienne said countries must continue in a spirit of solidary to address current challenges, including falling immunization coverage.

Across the board, vaccination rates for preventable diseases have either stalled or moved backwards, the PAHO Director said, and the region now sees the circulation of diseases that “we had either already eliminated or were once on the verge of surpassing.”

The PAHO Director urged countries to reverse these trends with “unwavering resolve,” as “other diseases like diphtheria and yellow fever are just one outbreak away from becoming regional emergencies.”

The Director also called for greater cooperation towards universal health in the region, since during COVID-19 “the world recognized just how central health is to our societies and to our economies.”

“For 120 years, the Americas have relied on cooperation because we’ve understood that our health, our security and our prosperity are interdependent,” the Director said, referring to PAHO’s creation in 1902 to address a yellow fever emergency.

As we turn to the task of rebuilding from this pandemic, Dr. Etienne said, “we must do more to improve the health of our people by working in partnership.”

“I hope that 10 years from now, we can look at our region as one”, Dr. Etienne said, where countries recognize the ties that link the health of people, planet and animals, and where “digital technologies enhance disease monitoring, improve the patient experience and encourage informed decision-making in all of our Member States.”

The 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference, held from 26-30 September 2022, brings together high-level dignitaries and health authorities from countries in the Americas to deliberate on policies to strengthen health.

During the week, delegates will discuss ongoing health emergencies, including COVID-19 and monkeypox, and review policies and strategies to strengthen the region’s preparedness for future outbreaks. This includes, among others, regional action to improve genomic surveillance, develop resilient health workforces and enhance regulatory systems to facilitate the manufacturing of health technologies, such as vaccines. Other issues, such as the growing burden of mental health disorders, access to primary care and tackling non-communicable diseases, will also be addressed.

The Pan American Sanitary Conference is the Organization’s highest decision-making body, meeting every five years to determine policies to improve the health and well-being of the population in the region.

During this year’s Conference, Member and Participating States will elect the next PAHO Director, who will take office on 1 February 2023 and lead the Organization for the next five years.



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St. Lucia

CARPHA Urges Member States To Integrate Health Practices Into Tourism

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The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), asserting that the Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region in the world, has urged member states to integrate health practices into the tourism industry.

According to CARPHA, this would enable a more sustainable and resilient Caribbean travel and tourism sector as the region continues to face many external shocks.

The regional health agency said these shocks included the performance of the global economies, natural disasters, and most recently, major health threats.

CARPHA’s remarks came in a statement marking World Tourism Day on Tuesday.

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“In the Caribbean, we recognize that the health of Caribbean economies is closely related to the health of its travel and tourism industry given that the Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region in the world,” the statement observed.

CARPHA referred to the ongoing COVID-19pandemic.

And the organisation noted that the pandemic had demonstrated the critical necessity for health in tourism.

“It was propelled by travel, devastating tourism, resulting in economic instability and threatening regional health security in the Caribbean,” CARPHA recalled.

“Health must be intertwined into Caribbean tourism to promote sustainable tourism and thereby, sustainable economies, social and economic well-being,” the regional health agency declared.

It observed that in keeping with CARPHA’s mandate, the agency’s Regional Tourism and Health Programme (THP) was developed.

THP aims to strengthen regional and national health systems and enhance the health of visitor and resident populations by seeking to address the health, safety, and environmental sanitation threats to tourism.

CARPHA said the programme is elevating Caribbean tourism by building traveller’s confidence and supporting CARPHA Member States in reinstating healthier, safer travel to the Caribbean, during COVID-19 and as the pandemic changes its trajectory.

Headline photo: Stock image

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St. Lucia

King Issues Statement on Deterioration of Roads

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Minister for Infrastructure, Ports, Energy & Labour, Stephenson King

With road conditions drawing the displeasure of motorists across the country, Senior Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Ports, Transport, Physical Development and Urban Renewal Stephenson King, yesterday issued a statement in the hope of getting motorists to understand his ministry’s position in relation to the island’s roads.

According to King, over the last two months; ever since the commencement of the Hurricane Season, there has been serious deterioration of Saint Lucia’s road network as a result of the predominant torrential rains which the Island has been experiencing so far this year.

“Unfortunately, the efforts by the Department of Infrastructure, Ports and Transport to implement its routine road maintenance programme have been marred by the adverse environmental working conditions caused by the persistency and frequency of both intermittent and torrential rain,” noted King.

However, he added that the Department of Infrastructure will continue its concentration on unclogging of drains, culverts and clearing roadways at this time, since it is impossible to conduct any serious or effective road repairs.

“The Department of Infrastructure, Ports and Transport is continuing its assessment of the damage caused to the country’s road network to date, in preparation for rehabilitative works, to be undertaken, once the climatic conditions improve,” King stated.

Meanwhile, the motoring public is encouraged to drive safely and exercise caution when navigating the roads to avoid loss of lives and damage to property.



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