Regional Director visits Pan American Health Organization


From left: Mirta Roses Periago, Director of PAHO, and Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe

Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, is visiting the headquarters of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the WHO Regional Office of the Americas, on 11–13 June to strengthen cooperation through the exchange of information on key political, strategic and management topics.

On the first day of her visit, Ms Jakab was briefed by Dr Mirta Roses Periago, Director of PAHO, and other senior managers on PAHO’s work, and held a teleconference with Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General.

At a meeting with PAHO staff, Ms Jakab explained her vision for WHO/Europe, and the reform and restructuring process. She also introduced the new European health policy framework, Health 2020, which will be submitted to European Member States for adoption in September 2012, and described WHO’s relations with the European Commission, including their joint declaration.

Discussions on 11 June focused particularly on the importance of building and maintaining strong WHO country and regional offices, to ensure that the whole of WHO remains strong. Participants from both regional offices agreed that WHO should serve all countries, regardless of their economic status, as Member States, as well as donors. In addition, WHO needed to do much more work to operate across regions and sustain dialogue and cooperation with interregional country groupings such as the BRICS (Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa) group of leading emerging economies.

The issue of partnerships and alliances dominated the agenda on 12 June. PAHO and WHO/Europe staff described their collaboration with partners, and discussed possibilities for further developing partnerships with, for example, nongovernmental organizations in Brussels, Belgium; think-tanks; large philanthropic foundations; and the private sector. The participants agreed that broader partnerships would be particularly beneficial to work to strengthen humanitarian assistance, reform health systems and address the epidemic of noncommunicable diseases. On the final day of the mission, WHO/Europe staff shared their experience with  addressing specific public health challenges, including the rising incidence of HIV in the WHO European Region, the need for access to effective drugs to treat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and counteracting the influence of anti-vaccination groups to maintain the recommended population-vaccination levels.

The mission identified many areas where closer collaboration between PAHO and WHO/Europe would further promote public health goals in both regions. WHO/Europe and PAHO agreed to pursue this in their future work.