Berlin, Germany, October 17, 2023 (PAHO) – At the 2023 World Health Summit in Berlin, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Jarbas Barbosa, highlighted the need for strong partnerships among regions to increase health access and equity, especially as countries work to prepare to scale up and respond to future health threats.
“Countries in the Americas still struggle with inequalities in access to health, education and social protection, while facing significant demographic changes, including an aging population that needs long-term social and health care,” said the PAHO director at a session organized by the M8 Alliance. , George Washington University and the University of Montreal, titled “Transatlantic Lessons for Global Health: From DC to Berlin,” during the Global Health Summit.
These obstacles pose a huge challenge to the sustainability of health systems in the region, added Dr. Barbosa, which can only be solved through strategic partnerships, such as the agreement signed between PAHO, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Regional the WHO office for Europe earlier this year.
The tripartite collaboration seeks to advance a common health agenda, including capacity mobilization networks in Europe and the Americas for pandemic response, as well as health workforce mobilization and joint action to combat climate change and antimicrobial resistance and promote health for migrants and refugees.
It also seeks to optimize engagement to develop regional manufacturing capacity for medicines, vaccines and health technology – a lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left many Latin American and Caribbean countries vulnerable with limited health supplies.
While the partnership could benefit the most vulnerable countries in the Americas, the PAHO director also highlighted areas where regional experience could benefit others. He reminded that for more than 40 years countries in America have been pooling the procurement of vaccines through PAHO’s regional revolving funds, and the advantage is “obvious in the elimination of several vaccine-preventable diseases in the Region, and the continuous control and prevention of HIV. /AIDS, TB and malaria.”
In addition, PAHO’s Virtual Campus—an educational platform designed to enhance technical cooperation with our member states—reaches more than 2.5 million health workers in the region, the director added, building capacity in the prevention and management of COVID-19, expanding access to NCD care and treatment and strengthening regulatory capacity in countries, among others.
“I know that as our regions continue to participate in forums like the World Health Summit, both here in Berlin and in Washington DC, we can further benefit the health and well-being of all people in the Americas and Europe,” said Dr. Barbosa.
During the event, Loyce Pace, Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at the United States HHS, reiterated that such collaborative frameworks allow us to scale up and take concrete action on priority issues, such as One Health, but also accelerate progress in areas such as which are medical production.
dr. Gundo Aurel Weiler, Director of Country Support at the WHO Regional Office for Europe, emphasized that COVID-19 has shown us how closely linked countries are in their domestic health issues. These include health misinformation, pandemic preparedness and inequality, among others, and strong partnerships would enable us to keep health ‘at the center of social and economic development’ on the global agenda.
Speaking about the key role of the academic community in providing research, data and innovation needed to face global health challenges, Prof. Dr. dr. Hélène Boisjoly, Board of Trustees and former dean of medicine at the University of Montreal, Canada, reiterated that collaboration between the public health sector, academia and industry will be key to building health systems based on people’s needs.
“It is clear that we must jointly establish a collaborative approach to strengthen health security, health equity and the global health architecture we share,” said Dr. Barbosa in his closing remarks. “If we do not take inequalities into account, no public health policy will succeed. If we don’t identify the barriers – cultural, social or economic – and develop strategies to address them, we will always leave some population groups behind,” he said.
During the 2023 World Health Summit, the PAHO Director also unveiled PAHO’s Elimination Initiative, which aims to eradicate 30 diseases and related conditions in the Americas by 2030, including malaria, mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and cancer cervix, along with several neglected tropical diseases.
He also held meetings with representatives of the Public Health Agency of Canada, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the French Development Agency (AFD), the German Development Agency (GIZ), as well as to representatives from Google Health and the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative, among others.