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Press Release


  September 25, 2006

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today addressed the Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), stressing the need for close cooperation among regional organizations to establish a stronger link between health priorities in the Americas and the region’s political agenda.

“Political action, particularly the negotiation and the search for consensus, is a vital element to forge the type of governance needed to strengthen democracy in the hemisphere,” Insulza said at the opening session of the annual gathering of health ministers from PAHO member countries. In that regard, the OAS Secretary General said that governance requires capable institutions that can, together with the private sector and civil society, formulate and implement public policies needed to reach all sectors of the population, including the most disadvantaged.

Insulza emphasized that one priority on the OAS agenda is support for persons with disabilities, including prevention and rehabilitation. This issue was considered by the Heads of State and Government during the Fourth Summit of the Americas, held last November. In response to a Summit mandate, the OAS General Assembly entrusted the OAS Permanent Council with drafting a plan of action for the Decade of the Americas for Persons with Disabilities. This effort will seek the support of PAHO and other regional organizations, Insulza indicated.

The Secretary General also recalled the recent strategic cooperation agreement signed at the OAS between the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and PAHO, aimed at improving health and prosperity in rural communities of the member states. These two institutions, Insulza noted, “have spearheaded our cooperation on the topic of avian influenza and other recent experiences related to natural catastrophes and the fight against drugs, which point us in the same direction of generating a culture of cooperation,” Insulza said.

Others participating in the opening session included PAHO Director Mirta Roses; the Acting Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Anders Nordstrom; the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Mike Leavitt; and the Acting Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Andrew von Eschenbach.

During today’s meeting of the PAHO Directing Council, Insulza also moderated a panel discussion that focused on strategic alliances to improve coordination among the health, labor, education, and environmental sectors in countries of the region.

Reference: E-199/06