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Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, is one of several health ministers from the Americas attending the 28th Pan American Sanitary Conference in Washington D.C.

The five-day meeting, which got underway Monday (Sept. 17), is being held at the headquarters of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).

Dr. Ferguson said the conference is important to Jamaica and the wider Caribbean region as it presents an opportunity to review the progress made within the health sector, as well as to make crucial linkages to harness technical cooperation and resources.

He said he will be making a presentation, which will cover: health technology: systems for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases; integrated child health; health-related knowledge management and communication; coordination of health-related international humanitarian assistance in case of disasters; progress in the area of gender equality, and HIV/AIDS prevention and control.

Director of PAHO, Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, will present the organization's quinquennial report, which highlights the public health achievements of the past decade and pending challenges in the Americas.

The 2012 edition of Health in the Americas, a publication that provides an update on the health situation in the 48 countries and territories of the region, will also be presented. The report describes the progress made by the countries of the Americas and the challenges they face as they work to improve health in the region, presenting an integrated approach to the most pressing health issues.

Other matters to be dealt with at the conference will be the election of a new PAHO Director to succeed Dr. Periago, who will demit office on February 1, 2013, and approval of a new regional budget policy.

Prior to the opening of the conference, Caribbean health ministers attended the 21st Meeting of the Caucus of CARICOM Ministers Responsible for Health, from September 15 to 16, as well as the Third Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Partners Forum and Executive Board Meeting on the 14th of September.

Participants discussed regional cooperation in priority areas of public health in the Caribbean, including HIV/AIDS, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), implementation of a Regional Pharmaceutical Policy and the progress made in the implementation of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), which is to become functional in January 2013.

The Pan American Sanitary Conference is the supreme governing authority of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and meets every five years to determine its policies and priorities. The conference also serves as a forum for the inter-exchange of information and ideas relating to the prevention of disease; the preservation, promotion and restoration of mental and physical health; and the promotion of health.Pan American Health Organisation

PAHO, which celebrates its 110th anniversary this year, is the world’s oldest public health organization. It works with all the countries of the Hemisphere to improve the health and quality of life of the peoples of the Americas and serves as the WHO Regional Office for the Americas.

Accompanying Dr. Ferguson are: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Jean Dixon; Chief Medical Officer, Michael Coombs; and Director of International Corporation in Health, Ava Gay Timberlake.