American official suggests annual PAHO meeting on AIDS in Caribbean
Guyana Chronicle
September 26, 2002

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UNITED States Secretary of State and Human Services Tommy F. Thompson has called for renewed efforts to control AIDS in the Caribbean.

"I believe the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) should have an annual meeting in the Caribbean dealing with AIDS," he said at this week's opening of the Pan American Sanitary Conference, a meeting of all Health Ministers in the Americas in Washington DC.

Thompson recalled for the audience that American President Teddy Roosevelt had opened a PAHO meeting 100 years ago in the era of yellow fever and malaria.

"Now we are struggling with new diseases, new threats, new challenges," he said.

"For my country, one of the greatest of these challenges over the past year has been international terrorism. I thank the many of you who have stood with us as we have dealt with our loss and pain during the past 12 months. My country was struck by ruthless enemies.

"In the name of security, justice and freedom, we have struck back. And we will continue carrying a battle to our adversaries until victory is assured," a PAHO/WHO release quotes Thompson as saying.

The meeting, which opened on Monday, is a policy-setting governing body composed of ministers from all its member countries. The meeting received new reports on the state of health in the Americas today.

Participants discussed a series of topics including health and aging, AIDS, vaccines and immunisation, chronic diseases and childhood illnesses. They yesterday also elected a new director of PAHO. (See story on page nine).

Thompson said important issues in the region include a focus on investments in health and education and the critical role of parents and families in the health of children. Others are using the Global Fund to provide innovative ways of fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission.

He cited the achievements in health in the Americas over the past century of PAHO's existence, and noted: "PAHO has been, and remains, my country's steadfast partner in advancing science and improving public health. We are so grateful for all PAHO has done to improve the health and well-being of everyone in our hemisphere."

PAHO, which also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organisation (WHO), was established in 1902. Member states include all 35 countries in the Americas. Puerto Rico is an associate member.

France, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are participating states, while Portugal and Spain are observer states.

PAHO is celebrating 100 years of work with all countries of the Americas, to improve the health and raise the living standards of their peoples, the release added.