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OAS Secretary General Highlights Shared Challenges on Health Promotion and Democracy

  September 27, 2010

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, spoke today at the inaugural session of the 50th Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), where he asserted that healthcare is an issue related to poverty and discrimination, some of the principal threats to democracy in the region.

“In a time of democracy in our region, there is no doubt there are threats to democracy that come to a significant extent from poverty and discrimination,” said Secretary General Insulza, who added that, “When we discuss the subject of healthcare we need to note that in some countries, indigenous and Afro-descendant populations suffer substantially more from the effects of poor healthcare conditions than other sectors of the population. This is an indication that the subject of healthcare is not unrelated to poverty and discrimination, and for that reason we should address these problems in a comprehensive way, as PAHO is proposing to do.”

Addressing the PAHO delegates that are meeting this week in Washington, DC, the Secretary General remarked on the work of PAHO in its more than 60 years of existence, and he made a special emphasis on the immediate action and coordination it carried out to prevent the spread of epidemics after the earthquake in Haiti.

“We have had a year with many tragedies, and this means the subject of public health continues to be present among us in a very crucial way,” said the Secretary General, who also referred to recent natural disasters in the region.

The leader of the hemispheric institution also recalled that on the subject of healthcare the countries of the hemisphere have achieved significant progress concerning the Millennium Development Goals, and encouraged countries to continue moving ahead. “This is a region, with all its problems and difficulties, that has performed very well when it comes to health, and that is due to the efforts of countries and to the work of the organization, to which we turn in our commitment to continue working together for a better life for all citizens of the Americas,” he concluded.

The inaugural session of PAHOS’ Directing Council also was attended by, among others, the Organization’s Director, Mirta Roses; the Social Sector Manager of the Inter-American Development Bank (IABD), Kei Kawabata; the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services of the United Sates of America, Bill Corr; and the Minister of Health of Paraguay, Dr. Esperanza Martinez.

A photo gallery of the event will be available here soon.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-352/10