Esperanza Martinez celebrated the response from the countries of the world and the region to the natural disasters that affected those areas and lamented the damage to health and human lives.
During her speech at the opening session of the 50th PAHO Directing Council in Washington, DC, the outgoing President of the Directing Council, Esperanza Martínez, reviewed the most momentous public health events in the region from the past year.
“The earthquakes in Haiti and Chile were the most important events, during which the international community and the community in the region showed their solidarity with the mobilization of technical, professional and economic resources to the affected countries,” said Martinez, Minister of Health of Paraguay.
The leader of the Paraguayan health sector lamented that “the damages to health in terms of deaths, illnesses and disabilities were devastating for thousands of families,” and added: “the magnitude of these events also affected health organizations and showed their responses to disaster situations.”
Martinez said that another important issue of 2009 was the dengue epidemic in Central and South America. “It remains one of the health problems of greatest impact on our countries,” she said.
The outgoing President of the PAHO Directing Council also said that the influenza pandemic left us with lessons learned: “it highlighted the response of countries focused on epidemiological surveillance, control systems, and the availability of vaccines produced in record time. Everything has helped reduce the impact on public health,” she said.
Martinez called for viewing regional integration as “an opportunity to build a health policy of social inclusion and participation to help reduce inequities. Consensus and political decision should prevail,” she reflected.