GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – “The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition,” part of the Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO) says.
Much has been achieved in the Americas since the establishment of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) 115 years ago on December 2, 1902.
The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), says PAHO, the world’s oldest international public health agency, has been dedicated to protecting and advancing public health in the Americas.
CPS adds that PAHO has contributed to major regional health achievements: A gain of 30 years in average life expectancy since 1902; the eradication of smallpox and polio from the Americas.
The elimination of endemic transmission of measles and rubella.
Major reductions in infant mortality; Elimination of onchocerciasis in Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Mexico; the elimination of Chagas’ Disease in Brazil, Chile and Paraguay; and the elimination of trachoma in Mexico.
The elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis in Cuba and in six Caribbean islands. Significant expansions of health coverage have been achieved for poor and vulnerable populations in PAHO member countries.
There has also been progress in legislation, regulations, and fiscal measures to reduce risk factors for non-communicable diseases.
Other regional public health achievements to which PAHO has contributed include: The ratification by 30 of 35 countries in the Americas of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
The establishment of Vaccination Week in the Americas, which inspired the first World Immunization Week.
Latin America and the Caribbean have the highest rates of coverage with antiretroviral treatment for people with HIV of any middle-lower-income region.
Latin America and the Caribbean have the lowest infant mortality rates of any developing region.
CPS says the aforementioned achievements are all part and parcel of PAHO’s sister organization WHO principle of health being a fundamental right.