Healthy Latin America Coalition promotes resilience at PAHO Directing Council

06th October 2021

Every year the Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) meets to discuss general health policies for the Americas. Last month, the Healthy Latin America Coalition (CLAS), supported by NCD Alliance via its partnership with The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, has engaged with the 59th Directing Council Meeting of PAHO (73rd Session of the Regional Committee of WHO for the Americas).

Last month CLAS held a webinar on September 14th giving attention  to NCDs at the PAHO level, amplify the voices of people living with NCDs, and calling on the need to connect the NCD agenda with progress towards achieving Universal Health Coverage. This event was used to inform CLAS advocacy priorities at the PAHO Directing Council. The webinar was attended by 95 participants from across the region,  including Dr. Ileana Vargas, Vice Minister of Health of Costa Rica, who reminded the audience that many of the problems we face on NCD prevention and care prior to and during  the pandemic. Other speakers included representatives of PAHO regional office, Global Health Advocacy Incubator, national NCD alliances and advocates with lived experience.  

CLAS, together with the World Heart Federation and NCD Alliance delivered two statements at PAHO Directing Councilon digital transformation of the health sector, and a strategy for building resilient health systems in the recovery post COVID-19.  

The statement on digital transformation welcomed the Global Strategy on Digital Health and the roadmap as both timely and necessary. It also pledged to work with PAHO and Member States to build and engage with  evidence base on digital health, share best practices to manage circulatory health and NCDs using digital health tools, and identify and elevate country champions throughout the Americas. 

The second statement focusing on health system’s resilience, echoed the messages of the recently published report Global NCD Agenda for Resilience and Recovery from COVID-19 and specifically called on Member States of the Americas Region to: 

  • Prioritise ongoing prevention, screening, and treatment for circulatory conditions and other NCDs in national COVID-19 emergency response and recovery plans, with people at the center; 

  • Increase domestic allocation of resources and develop targeted policies to tackle CVD and NCD risk factors, including the commercial determinants of health, through funding mechanisms such as taxation of unhealthy commodities (tobacco, alcohol, sugar-sweetened beverages and junk food); 

  • Integrate monitoring and data collection on NCD prevalence, comorbidities, and risk factors into measures of pandemic readiness, resilience, and response; and

  • Strengthen Primary Health Care to ensure equitable and integrated access to essential health services, particularly for people living with NCDs and in low-resource settings.

In follow-up to the PAHO meeting, CLAS is disseminating both statements with relevant government decision makers across the region, as a way of increasing its advocacy outreach.

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