PAHO, Member of the Summit’s International Coordination Committee
PAHO, hosted the USA launching of the FIRST SUMMIT ON AFRODECENDENTS
Welcome, Ambassador Jorge Ramón Hernández Alcerro of Honduras and, of course, our ODECO Partners and organizers of this important Summit, Gilberto Amaya, Yimene Calderón, and our longtime friend, Celeo Alvarez.
Welcome colleagues and friends to the “House of Health of the Americas”
We are honored to launch with you in the capital of the United States of America, this First Global Summit of African Descendents, which will take place in August in la Ceiba, Honduras.
We are delighted to be celebrating the International Year of African Descendants, which this Summit commemorates.
The United Nations General Assembly, in resolution A/RES/64/169, declared 2011 as the International Year of African Descendants. This pronouncement drew attention to national, regional and international support of African Descendants and promotion of: – their full enjoyment of economic, cultural, social, civil and political rights – their inclusion and participation in all spheres of society – their increased respect for and acceptance of diversity, and African heritage and culture
The Summit will bring together hundreds of organizations of Afro-descendant women and men, as well as their advocates, to celebrate this important year.
This celebration is important for recognizing the strength and resilience of Afro-descendant communities throughout the Americas, who have thrived despite historical discrimination and repression.
Not counting our North American and Caribbean sisters and brothers, our region has over 150 million Afro-descendant women and men, of whom approximately 90 million are in Brazil, and the rest living in Andean, Central American countries and Mexico, with smaller populations in the Southern Cone.
It is important to emphasize that this International Year of African Descendants provides an opportunity to right historical wrongs: in health, education, poverty, land rights, jobs, and financial credit for economic and social progress.
Unfortunately, history has relegated too many minority Afro-descendant communities to poverty and exclusion. In health, our still-limited statistics tell us that, starting at birth, Afro-descendant babies are more likely to die than their more privileged white brothers and sisters, their mothers are also more at risk during child birth, and while growing up, Afro-descendant children and adults experience more ill health. Adult men have much higher rates of homicide and HIV. Teen pregnancy is more prevalent, while equal access to health services and contraceptives remains a challenge.
This year is a time to celebrate the power of Afro-descendant organizations in challenging and changing these inequalities.
Their activism joined forces from around the globe during the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. This conference produced the Durban Declaration, which aims to eradicate, once and for all, these detrimental forces.
I want to give special recognition to ODECO—the Ethnic Community Development Organization—a Honduran-based organization that is organizing and mobilizing support for the Summit.
PAHO is very proud to be part of the development community that has supported ODECO.
We supported ODECO as a national and grassroots organization of Afro-Hondurans, with water projects in Carifuna communities and as a national political advocate for establishing a government ministry on racial affairs.
ODECO has provided global leadership by bringing together people from all over the world to celebrate their African heritage and their achievements at this Summit.
PAHO is a privileged member of the Summit’s International Coordination Committee and host to this USA launch.
We will join our development partners, civil society organizations, afro-Descendant leaders—both women and men, and our partners from ODECO in La Ceiba in August to celebrate this important Summit.
Together we will celebrate the International Year of African Descendants, to be followed by the International Decade, and advocate for lives free from discrimination and exclusion, and for equal opportunities to achieve the highest possible level of “health for all in the Americas”.