“It is time to prove that all countries of the Region are mature and able to provide the full array of health services to all persons, regardless of sex, age, socioeconomic status, and also sexual orientation” (*)
The health sector is often at the forefront in the struggle for equity.
The Region has a longstanding debt in terms of its responsibility to guarantee the well-being of people with different sexual orientations, who have specific health needs that are often ignored.
Addressing this inequity and overcoming it call for a strategy and plan of action to improve health promotion and disease prevention programs to meet the specific needs of these population groups.
To consider the health needs of one of these groups, experts from technical fields such as HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, mental health, health service organization and financing, and human rights joined together with representatives of civil society, government, and the United Nations system in the Regional Consultation on Health Promotion and Provision of Care to Men who Have Sex with Men in Latin America, which was held in July 2009 under the sponsorship of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Joint United Nations Program on Hiv/Aids (UNAIDS), and the International Association of Physicians in Aids CARE (IAPAC).
For more information, visit the joint PAHO/UNDP bulletin at: Experts to propose plan to improve the health of homosexual men in Latin America
One of the proposed reforms in the renewal of primary health care is organizing services around human needs, putting people at the center of the health system. Every country in the Region has committed to providing a basic package of health services to all people, regardless of sex, age, socioeconomic status, and, it should be added, sexual orientation.
Here, we must give a nod to the health workers and policymakers who, risking ostracism by their peers and electoral bases, have played a key role, along with citizens and the leaders of civil society organizations, in developing pioneering programs to meet the health needs of sexual minorities in a growing number of countries in the Americas.
(*)Mirta Roses Periago
• PAHO VIDEO: International Day against Homophobia – May 17 2009
• Experts Call for Better Health Services for Men who Have Sex with Men – PAHO Press Release