Media Center



  June 3, 2007

PANAMA CITY, Panama—The hemisphere’s top health policy authorities have launched the Health Agenda for the Americas, setting out the health priorities the governments propose to tackle over the next decade. The plan was unveiled today, hours before the opening of the 37th General Assembly session of the Organization of American Status (OAS), in the Panamanian capital.

OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, speaking at the ceremony launching the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) initiative, said the OAS has long prioritized cooperation with the United Nations (UN) and other international organizations on social policy issues, in pursuance of the Millenium Development Goals.

Panamanian President Martín Torrijos, Panamanian Health Minister Camilo Alleyne, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon and PAHO Director Mirta Roses, along with the OAS Secretary General, were among those who signed the Health Agenda for the Americas. Others on hand for the ceremony included several Ministers of Foreign Affairs, who are in Panama for the OAS General Assembly.

Insulza asserted in his remarks that if international organizations do not cooperate, the objectives of banishing poverty and hunger from the Americas, as well as the objectives of “improving health for all our citizens and reducing childhood malnutrition and mortality, will become even more difficult to attain.” He said a significant number of the Millennium Development Goals address health policy issues “because it is understood that poverty—the ultimate target of the agenda—is fundamentally linked to health and education.” According to Insulza, “to the extent that there is a unified objective and a unified social agenda—with all the specific characteristics of each country and each region—to that extent, we will be making progress in the social arena, with many parallel objectives, many ideas, proposals and concepts developed by each organization.”

Secretary General Insulza hailed the role played by the World Health Organization (WHO) and PAHO in guiding all the ministries of health “around this crucial effort.” He said the project launched today delivers “an ambitious agenda, a policy initiative for the next decade.” Not only does it set certain objectives, but it also identifies “what commitments each country undertakes and what specific task each will pursue,”

The Secretary General touched on work by the OAS “to design a Social Charter” that articulates social citizenship rights for the peoples of the Americas, to complement the Inter-American Democratic Charter adopted in 2001. He described the Social Charter initiative as a parallel effort to the new PAHO plan, adding: “We believe that our Democratic Charter asserts political citizenship–the right to participate in a free and democratic political system, civil citizenship—but also addresses social citizenship: the right to enjoy the benefits of development.”

For her part, PAHO Director Mirta Roses explained in her remarks that launching the Health Agenda of the Americas represents a singleness of purpose around improving human life and enhancing understanding and harmony among peoples.

Roses described the health plan as the product of a process of consultations at various levels, involving governments and civil society, to present “a platform that articulates the governments’ sovereign and collective will, speaking to the world, to their citizens and to civil society while addressing the need for international cooperation and identifying what the health sector can contribute to development and what it needs from the other sectors.”

Reference: GA-16-07