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Roses sets new course for second term.


Mirta Roses Periago pledged to keep the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) at the forefront of efforts to improve health throughout the Americas as she began her second term as the first woman to lead the world's oldest international health organization.

At her inaugural celebration on Feb. 1, Roses reiterated the theme that inequity is the greatest challenge facing the Americas and that existing health inequities in the region are unacceptable. She said she would work to ensure that PAHO serves "as an instrument for bringing good health to the most neglected, vulnerable, marginalized and excluded populations."

"Health is a public and instrumental good for individuals, families and communities. Thus, it should be within the reach of all," she said.

Among the dignitaries attending Roses' inauguration were Maria Soledad Barria, minister of health of Chile; Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States; Rebeca Grynspan, assistant secretary general of the United Nations Development Program; H. John Maginley, minister of health of Antigua and Barbuda; and Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank.

Dancers and musicians from Argentina, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States enlivened the ceremony for the audience of PAHO staff members, U.S. and foreign officials, and representatives of PAHO partner organizations.

In her inaugural address, Roses pointed to two action plans endorsed by PAHO's member countries, the Health Agenda for the Americas 2008-2017 and PAHO's Strategic Plan 2008-2013, that provide a framework for Pan American efforts to reduce health inequalities and social exclusion, and "their pernicious effects on the social fabric and the full potential of individuals, families and countries."

"Putting health within the reach of all is a noble goal that calls for the convergence of a great many efforts," said Roses. "In this regard, we have the ability to coordinate our activities, increase our connectivity, create networks for collaboration, and enlist new actors and institutions to confront the risks and specifically protect the most vulnerable among us."

Among the priorities Roses said would guide her leadership of PAHO during her second term were:

* Strengthening the roles and capacities of member governments to protect and improve their citizens' health.

* Increasing international support for PAHO's priority countries: Bolivia, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua.

* Reducing the public health effects of urbanization, population growth, aging, violence, mental health problems, substance abuse, smoking, obesity and chronic diseases, while also striving to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

* Transforming the region's health systems with a focus on primary health care, health promotion, social protection, sustainable provision of supplies, and qualified human resources.

* Facilitating dialog and cooperation among educators, employers and decision-makers to strengthen human resources for health and ensure their effective distribution.

* Promoting evidence-based, proven health interventions.

* Strengthening health information systems and incorporate scientific and traditional knowledge, lessons learned, and best practices into health policymaking.

* Mobilizing partners, including the public and private sector, educational and research institutions, scientific and professional associations, NGOs, communities and the public at large.


Roses also pledged to increase the "speed and flexibility" of PAHO operations and to ensure transparency, accountability and results-based management. She promised "to ensure a strategic presence in every country" and to work closely with national authorities in decision-making about PAHO's strategies and activities. Roses also said PAHO is developing a list of diseases that could be eliminated or significantly reduced by 2015, including leprosy, trachoma, onchocerciasis, vector-borne Chagas' disease, lymphatic filariasis, and congenital syphilis. In addition, others could be eliminated in certain subregions, including malaria in the Caribbean and hemorrhagic fever in Argentina and Bolivia.

"This will be the greatest legacy of our 20th century generation to the children of the 21st century," said Roses.

Dr. Mirta Roses' inaugural address can be read here.
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Publication:Perspectives in Health
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2008
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