Experts discuss antibiotic resistance, tuberculosis, malaria, vaccines, maternal mortality, childhood diseases and health sector reform

New challenges ahead and the unfinished agenda in public health in the Americas" will be the focus of joint efforts by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), according to Dr. Ruth Frischer, who heads the population, health and nutrition team in USAID's Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Speaking at the conclusion of a symposium on "Alliances for Public Health in the Americas" that reviewed health achievements and future challenges, Frischer said. "Through our partnership public health has advanced in the region and now we look forward to a continued partnership" to work on the common threads of health equity, quality, access, increased information and communication, and others, she added.

Dr. Joxel García, PAHO's deputy director, said, "We have high hopes for the next three years of our partnership with USAID," noting that science-based tools to strengthen national health systems "are crucial so that the fight against infectious diseases, vaccination programs, reduction of maternal mortality, the management of childhood illnesses and other initiatives become fully integrated into the delivery of health services."

"Health issues are now on the political agenda of the hemisphere," since presidents and prime ministers have included health in the mandates and priorities agreed at various Summits of the Americas, Garcia said. "I am proud that the PAHO-USAID partnership is helping to implement several of these mandates" and is serving as a magnet to mobilize resources for public health, he added.

Experts from both agencies spent two days discussing antibiotic resistance, tuberculosis, malaria, vaccines, maternal mortality, childhood diseases and health sector reform. USAID and PAHO have also been working on other priority areas such as prevention of risks in disasters, anti-personnel mines, HIV/AIDS, new techniques in immunization and migrant health.

PAHO and USAID have collaborated in major successes such as eradicating polio in the Americas and halting indigenous transmission of measles.

PAHO, established in 1902, is the world's oldest international health organization. It serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization and works with the countries of the region to improve health and quality of life for all the peoples of the Americas.

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