Washington, D.C., 27 September 2017 (PAHO/WHO) — Health leaders from throughout the Americas have endorsed an ambitious and wide-ranging agenda for fighting diseases and making their countries’ health systems universal and sustainable by the year 2030. The Sustainable Health Agenda for the Americas 2030 (SHAA2030)—which takes inspiration from the global UN Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030—was unanimously adopted during the 29th Pan American Sanitary Conference, meeting this week at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) in Washington, D.C.
The new agenda commits countries to pursuing 11 goals (see below) and 60 targets that will be used to measure progress toward those goals. They range from achieving universal health coverage to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Americas, all by the target year 2030. In launching the new agenda, PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne said it is a prime example of the public health leadership the Region of the Americas has shown for more than a century. “I believe if any region can bring this agenda to reality it is the Americas region,” she said. “It is because of our solidarity, our commitment and our passion that we can make it happen.”
Building on progress, striving for equity The agenda’s 11 goals cover a range of action areas deemed essential for strengthening countries’ health systems to ensure their efficiency, effectiveness, equity and sustainability, with the ultimate goal of guaranteeing that all people have access to the health care they need when they need it, without fear of financial difficulty. The agenda builds on progress made in the first part of the 20th century toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as goals set in the Health Agenda for the Americas 2008-2017, which was adopted by PAHO Member States in 2007.
That regional health progress includes an increase of 3.2 years in average life expectancy between 2000 and 2015, significant reductions in infant mortality, and major declines in communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria. The Region has also reached three historic health milestones so far this century: the elimination of endemic measles circulation (in 2016) and the elimination of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (in 2015).
Despite this progress, significant health gaps remain between low- and higher-income countries of the Region and between different population groups within countries. In the new Sustainable Health Agenda for the Americas, countries have agreed to prioritize actions that will help ensure that future health progress is more equitable, so that no country or population group is left behind. “Until every man, woman and child can live a life that is healthy and productive, we will have failed, and I don’t want the next generation to say, ‘what did they do,’” said Etienne. “Let’s go forward with the commitment that we will reach everyone who is not being reached.”
Goals of the Sustainable Health Agenda for the Americas
1 - Expand equitable access to comprehensive, integrated, quality, people-, family-, and community-centered health services, with an emphasis on health promotion and illness prevention.
2 - Strengthen stewardship and governance of the national health authority (ministries of health), while promoting social participation.
3 - Strengthen the management and development of human resources for health with skills that facilitate a comprehensive approach to health.
4 - Achieve adequate and sustainable health financing with equity and efficiency, and advance toward protection against financial risks for all persons and their families.
5 - Ensure access to essential medicines and vaccines and to other priority health technologies, according to available scientific evidence and the national context.
6 - Strengthen information systems for health to support the development of evidence-based policies and decision-making.
7 - Develop capacity for the generation, transfer, and use of evidence and knowledge in health, promoting research, innovation, and the use of technology.
8 - Strengthen national and regional capacities to prepare for, prevent, detect, monitor, and respond to disease outbreaks and emergencies and disasters that affect the health of the population.
9 - Reduce morbidity, disabilities, and mortality from noncommunicable diseases, injuries, violence, and mental health disorders.
10 - Reduce the burden of communicable diseases and eliminate neglected diseases.
11 - Reduce inequality and inequity in health through intersectoral, multisectoral, regional, and subregional approaches to the social and environmental determinants of health.
Ministers of health from throughout the Americas are meeting this week at PAHO to discuss public health policies, address health challenges, and guide the organization's technical cooperation in each country.
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