Ministry of Public Health, Guyana (October 13, 2016) – Hon. Dr. George Norton, Minister of Public Health were among the panel of health ministers and other officials who meet during the last week of September at the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Washington DC to discuss ways in which public health challenges can be tackled across the region.
He was accompanied by Dr. Karen Boyle, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health at the 55th Directing Council where Guyana was elected as a member of the Directing Council General Committee PAHO along with Jamaica, Grenada and Honduras.
The Regional Health representatives attended the Thirtieth Meeting of the Council on Human and Social Development (COHSOD) which focused on matters such as, chemical risk and thermo-nuclear risk management and infectious diseases. Discussions were also held on the Caribbean Cooperation in Health Priorities and Regional Public Goods, Management, Governance and Resourcing and the Regional Health Strategy. Countries were encouraged to take local ownership of moving the COHSOD agenda forward by ensuring support at the highest policy level.
Caribbean Member States have committed to developing National Polio Preparedness and Response Plans in order to achieve the required 80% target coverage for all the surveillance indicators for Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP). Countries were advised to integrate the surveillance for polio with the neurological manifestation of Zika.
Following the recently commemorated Caribbean Wellness Week, where non-communicable diseases was topical over the past few years, discussions continued along this path. New initiatives for preventing NCDs and treatment methods were explored. Countries were encouraged to implement health finance reform inclusive of increased taxation on harmful products such as foods high in sugars, salt, fat, alcohol and cigarettes.
In relation to HIV/AIDS, the Region’s achievements in relation to the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV was addressed. It was recommended that countries strengthen the data collection for HIV and Syphilis and integrate available data sources to provide timely monitoring of Maternal Child Health program performance within the context of existing national information systems.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Director General WHO, Dr. Marget Chan declared Latin America and the Caribbean measles free.