Regional health ministers commit to sustain, expand actions to fight COVID-19


(PAHO/WHO) Health ministers from countries in the Americas yesterday committed to maintain and expand actions to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and asked the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to continue supporting them in their fight to control it.

PAHO “assumes that the region will experience recurring epidemic waves and outbreaks interspersed with periods of low-level transmission over the next 24 months, pending development of a safe, efficacious, and equitably accessible COVID-19 vaccine and achievement of appropriate population coverage,” said a report presented to the 58th Directing Council.

In a resolution passed during a virtual session, the countries requested that PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne “continue providing evidence-based technical cooperation to Member States, promote innovation and sharing of experiences, to resume and maintain uninterrupted operations and interventions of the health system in all relevant aspects necessary for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The ministers specifically highlighted PAHO’s Revolving Fund for Access to Vaccines, and its Regional Revolving Fund for Strategic Public Health Supplies for “improving equitable access to, and appropriate use of, affordable, safe, efficacious and quality vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, biomedical equipment, and personal protective equipment that can improve health outcomes and reduce the impact of the pandemic.”

They also asked PAHO to maintain the regional network for the surveillance of influenza and other respiratory viruses, to expand these through the creation of a regional genomic surveillance network, and to support countries in engaging with global initiatives, such as the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, for vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, as well as other initiatives for the development and access to essential health technologies for COVID-19.

In addition, the countries urged that all comply with the provisions of the International Health Regulations (IHR), in particular those related to the timely submission of information.

The PAHO Directing Council brings together ministers of health and high-level delegates from PAHO/WHO member countries to discuss and analyse regional health policies, and to set priorities for technical cooperation and cross-country collaboration.