Thu | Sep 21, 2017

PAHO says inequality, exclusion the most important challenges for health, well-being in the Caribbean

Published:Sunday | April 30, 2017 | 4:10 PM
Dr Carissa Etienne

MEXICO CITY, CMC – Head of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, says the most important challenges to health and well-being in the Americas, including the Caribbean, are rooted in inequity and social exclusion.

“Health is crucial to achieving the 2030 Agenda as a whole,” said the Dominican-born Etienne in addressing the Forum of Latin American and Caribbean Countries on Sustainable Development here, calling for health challenges to be addressed with more than just technical action.

“There is a need for greater political commitment, collective efforts and the involvement of actors at all levels to effectively ensure that no one is left behind,” added PAHO director.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in September 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly.

They seek to end poverty, fight against inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change.

Ensuring a healthy life and promoting well-being for all at any age, SDG 3, is one of the objectives of the Agenda.

“In addition to SDG3, other goals impact on health, which highlights the need for multi-sectoral action to improve health and ensure development with equity,” said Etienne, noting that health and development are inextricably linked.

According to Etienne, the Sustainable Development Goals require that governments, societies and agencies of the United Nations collaborate in an innovative way by placing equity and social inclusion at the centre of their actions.

She detailed the work that PAHO and its partners are doing to support the countries of the region to reach the 2030 Agenda.

Etienne also cited the creation of an independent commission of experts that will gather evidence on equity and inequalities in health; an agreement with ECLAC to advance the identification of indicators that will allow the monitoring and evaluation of progress toward SDG3, and the PAHO universal access and health strategy that aims at equity through health for everybody.

Etienne spoke in a panel discussion with other representatives of United Nations agencies in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Jessica Faieta, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP); María Cristina Perceval, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); and Miguel Barreto, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the World Food Program (WFP).