Legislation aimed at reducing tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke is under assault from cigarette makers and their allies
Washington, D.C., September, 29, 2010 (PAHO) — Health leaders meeting at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) vowed today to take action to counter attempts by the tobacco industry to subvert public health efforts aimed at protecting people from the harmful effects of tobacco use.
The Executive Committee supports the effectiveness of immunization programs and supports efforts to strengthen PAHO; it also emphasizes the monitoring of procedures to alleviate public concern over some vaccines. It mentions the interest of some countries in considering immunizations as a public good, while acknowledging that some already have designated them as such achieving the eradication of polio, rubella, congenital rubella, among others.
In order to review advances in the six countries of the Americas that receive support of the Global Alliances Vaccine Immunization (GAVI) members of PAHO, GAVI and ministers of health of Haiti, Honduras, Cuba, Nicaragua, Guyana and Bolivia met today.
Cigarette makers and their allies try to block legislation aimed at reducing tobacco consumption and exposure to second-hand smoke.
Ministers of Health called on PAHO to help strengthen their ability to implement tobacco control measures, particularly those contained in the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).
The director of the Office of Global Health of the Department of Health and Human Services of the United States recounted that the policies developed in New York, where mortality is higher in the poor areas that in those of better income, managed to improve life expectancy of the inhabitants, but clarified that despite the progress inequalities persist regardless of income or ethnicity of the people.
Jacob Kumaresan, director of the Kobe Center in WHO, highlighted that in cities there are from 8 to 10 times more physicians than in rural areas. He also mentioned the fast pace urban growth surpasses the ability of the available services to provide a adequate response.
José Ángel Córdova Villalobos invited Mirta Roses and other representatives of the Pan American Health Organization to participate in the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-16) to be held next December in Mexican city of Cancun.
Following the report that PAHO’s Executive Committee delivered on it’s work, where it details progress made in relation to PAHO’s expected results, different countries in the voices of its ministers or delegates offered their comments.
These countries replace Bolivia, Mexico and Suriname, after the expiry of their mandates. The Committee is composed of 9 members states who remain in office for a period of 3 years. After that time, they must wait a year for re-election.
With the intention of sharing work experiences and advances in their respective nutrition projects, four ministers in attendance of the 50th Directing Council, met with the Assistant Director of PAHO, Dr. Socorro Gross.
A statue of Edward Jenner, creator of the vaccine against smallpox, was unveiled by PAHO director Dr. Mirta Roses; Deputy Director, Dr. Jon Andrus; Assistant Director, Dr. Socorro Gross; doctors Donald Henderson and Ciro de Quadros, and the director of the Museum of Epidemiology of Berkeley, England, Sarah Parker, who gifted the statue to the Organization. “There are many statues of Jenner in the world and I cheer that Washington has one now,” said Parker, who issued a call to “learn from the past and to promote research in the future.”
Dra. Gina Tambini, gerente del Área de Salud de la Familia y la Comunidad
“Since February 2010, the region of the Americas shows no recorded no cases of endemic rubella,” highlighted Dr. Gina Tambini, Area Manager of Family and Community Health; she added that the achievement is due to the “commitment of Member States, the contributions from PAHO’s partners, and the commitment of health personnel in the countries.”
The creator of the first vaccine, Edward Jenner, was a physician and scientist born in 1749 in Berkeley, England, said PAHO Assistant Director, Dr. Socorro Gross, during the celebration of the anniversary of the smallpox eradication.
Jenner noted that the women who milked cows developed smallpox with less frequency. Smallpox was one of the most feared diseases at the time: it killed millions without distinction by age or status.
The English physician proposed the hypothesis that the secretion of vesicles of smallpox of the cow was what protected the women that milked. In May 1796, he proved its hypothesis, inoculating a 8 year-old child. The effect was fever and discomfort but not severe disease. Months later, the child did not present the disease. It remained immunized. Jenner made the test then with others 23 people, with the same results. As the inoculation was done from the cow therefore the term vaccination was born.
PAHO recognized the Canadian International Development Agency for its support toward measles elimination, rubella, and congenital rubella in the region. The ambassador Allan Culham received the recognition.
Cyrus Poonawalla, from the Serum Institute of India, received the distinction from PAHO. “It is the first time that PAHO gives an award to a private industry. The Institute is a model of business ethic and humanitarianism,” said PAHO’s Deputy Director Dr. Jon Andrus.
Dr. Martinez describes Paraguay’s commitment to PAHO’s Revolving Fund, and highlights the continued efforts by the public sector and civil society to maintain gains made in the area of smoke-free spaces.
She noted that the Americas went from purchasing 38 million doses of vaccine during the first years to over 300 million in the present day. “This is about high quality vaccines at fair prices,” she said and stated that 40 countries from the region now make their purchases through the Fund. Because of immunizations, the region “is free from polio, measles and very soon from rubella” she said.
Washington, DC, September 28, 2010 (PAHO) – Health ministers from the Americas today reflected on the future of immunization programs by celebrating major milestones in fighting disease and looking ahead to new challenges made possible by advances in vaccine technology.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the eradication of smallpox, Dr. Mirta Roses remembered Edward Jenner’s dream to eradicate diseases with the use of vaccines. She also evaluated the successful work of the Revolving Fund since its creation in 1979, because it allows member countries to get their vaccines promptly to meet their needs or emergencies. She cited as an example the H1N1 influenza pandemic.
Socorro Gross, PAHO’s Assistant Director, met with members of the Brazilian team working on the ‘Brasileirinhos y Brasileirinhas Saudáveis’ (Healthy Little Brazilian Girls and Boys) project to support their work on early childhood development.
The Organization will share with the leaders of the initiative experiences and research that will help them measure the lag in this area that exists in Brazil.