PAHO Wants Caribbean’s Health Systems Stronger

VANCOUVER, Canada – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has called on Caribbean countries to take action and make the necessary investments to make their health systems stronger and more resilient. â€œPreparedness requires more than emergency plans and simulation exercises,” said PAHO director, Dominican Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, in addressing the 4th Global Symposium on Health Systems Research here recently.

Etienne“It means strengthening core aspects of health systems, from human resources and access to medicines, to health information systems and even legal measures to support public health action.” Investing in health systems resilience is “considerably more cost effective” than financing emergency response and is likely to better protect people’s health and well being in both emergencies and normal times, said Etienne.

“Fragile health systems increase the vulnerability of populations to external risks that impact health and well-being, health protection, and ultimately social and economic development,” she said. â€œAgain and again we see this, through epidemics of H1N1 influenza, chikungunya and Zika virus; through earthquakes in Chile and Ecuador; hurricanes in Haiti and The Bahamas; and through the effects of climate change on health.” In September, health leaders from PAHO member countries endorsed a new framework for efforts to ensure that health systems are more resilient in future health emergencies.