Dr. Jarbas Barbosa was sworn in Tuesday as the new Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), pledging to work in partnership with member states to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barbosa also pledged to ensure that the region’s health systems recover stronger than before. He takes office on 1 February 2023.
“Countries in the Americas face a complex epidemiological landscape, with the stubborn persistence of communicable diseases, the risk of outbreaks and epidemics, the rise of non-communicable diseases, the damage caused by traffic accidents and violence, and the impacts of climate change,” Dr. Barbosa said.
“We need strong, resilient health systems that can perform all the Essential Public Health Functions adequately.”
Dr. Barbosa, formerly Assistant Director at PAHO, was sworn in at a ceremony held at the Organization of American States (OAS).
PAHO is the specialized international health agency for the inter-American system and Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO). Dr. Barbosa, a national of Brazil, succeeds Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, of Dominica.
To address the “significant inequalities between and within countries” and to ensure post-pandemic recovery and preparedness, Dr. Barbosa’s tenure will focus on five strategic pillars:
- End the pandemic with the tools countries have at hand, including surveillance and vaccines
- Apply the lessons learned from the pandemic to prepare for future health emergencies
- Guarantee rapid and equitable access to health innovations for all countries in the region
- Build resilient national health systems based on Primary Health Care
- Strengthen PAHO’s capacity to help member states.
“I will work tirelessly,” Barbosa said, “to ensure that PAHO maintains all of its many achievements to date, renewing itself every step of the way, always building networks and working as a bridge for understanding, solidarity and innovation.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of universal health to both the public and heads of state like never before, Barbosa said.
“It is urgent that we make use of this attention to strengthen health systems, address persistent issues and shortcomings, and ensure the right to health of all peoples in our Region,” he added.
“One hundred and twenty years ago, our countries proposed an alliance to improve the health of our peoples and face outbreaks and epidemics together,” Dr. Barbosa said.
“The dream of pan-Americanism. The dream that solidarity among the countries of the Americas is a powerful force that can improve the lives of our peoples.”
“We stand here today, 120 years later, encouraged by these very dreams, which remain very much alive and continue to inspire us.”
SOURCE: Pan American Health Organization/SLT