(June, 23 2017)
Commissioners are collecting information on root causes of health inequalities in the region. They will present their final report in 2018, with concrete recommendations to reduce or eliminate health equity gaps.
San José, Costa Rica, June 23, 2017 (PAHO/WHO) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Commission on Equity and Health Inequalities in the Americas met in Costa Rica from June 21 to 23 with the aim of understanding the factors that lead to health inequities in the region and finding ways to address them.
The commissioners met with high level officials including the country’s Second Vice President Ana Helena Chacón, the Minister of Health Maria Esther Anchía, the Minister of Planning and Economic Policy Olga Marta Sánchez, the Minister of the National Institute of Women Alejandra Mora, and Congresswoman Epsy Campbell. Members from civil society and academia also engaged with the commissioners and provided a thorough analysis of the situation in Costa Rica and Central America. The commissioners focused on gender and gender violence.
While in Costa Rica, the commissioners made two site visits. First, they went to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, where they discussed the synergies between the right to health and its relationship with the social determinants of health. They also visited the Delegación de la Mujer, a center that provides legal and psychological support to women who are victims of violence.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) established the independent Commission on Equity and Health Inequalities in the Americas in 2016. It is composed of experts who are evaluating evidence on the elements that lead to these inequalities, and will propose actions to improve the health of the people in the region. The Commission’s approach, like PAHO’s activities and programs, aims to incorporate Gender, Equity, Human Rights and Ethnicity, which are considered Cross-Cutting Themes. It will submit final recommendations in 2018. The Secretariat and Working Group on Cross-cutting Issues of PAHO supports the Commission in a manner that ensures the independence of PAHO. The commission has already met twice at PAHO headquarters in Washington and once in Bogota, Colombia. The commissioners will make another visit to Trinidad and Tobago.
Costa Rica is one of the 15 countries in the Americas that have partnered with the Commission to collaborate in the collection of data. Others include Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States. These countries are providing information and advice on case studies with successful outcomes and others that have failed to improve equity and health inequalities. They will also contribute suggestions for recommendations made by the Commission at the end of its work.
The meeting in Costa Rica also provided the commissioners with opportunities for in depth discussions on conducting evidence reviews on the causes that lead to inequalities, and on the monitoring systems and frameworks that can lead to actions to improve the health of the people in the region. The commissioners also strengthened their relationship with PAHO’s country partners, the representatives from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica, Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago.
The Commission is chaired by Sir Michael Marmot of the Institute of Health Equity at University College London. Its members include Paulo Buss and Cesar Victora from Brazil, Nila Heredia from Bolivia, Tracy Robinson from Jamaica, Cindy Blackstock from Canada, Mirna Cunningham from Nicaragua, María Paula Romo from Ecuador, Pastor Murillo from Colombia, Mabel Bianco and Victor Abramovich from Argentina, and David Satcher and Jo Ivey Boufford from the United States.
Text and photo: OPS OMS