Health ministers from across the Americas are meeting this week in Washington, D.C., for the 28th Pan American Sanitary Conference. The summit, held every five years, draws officials to analyze the health policies and outcomes in the region and govern the work of the Pan American Health Organization.

As part of the proceedings, member states today elected Carissa Etienne from Dominica as the new director of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau, the secretariat of PAHO. She will begin her five-year term Feb. 1, replacing Mirta Roses Periago of Argentina, who has served as PAHO director since 2003.

APHA receives award at PAHO conference

PAHO Director Mirta Roses Periago presents APHA's Georges Benjamin with an award recognizing the Association's contributions to improving health in the Americas during this week's PAHO meeting. Pictured from left are Jon Kim Andrus, deputy director of PAHO; Periago; Benjamin; Howard Koh, HHS assistant secretary for health; and Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, chair of the Pan American Health and Education Foundation. Photo courtesy PAHO

Earlier this week, PAHO recognized APHA during its Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Health program, presenting a special recognition for the Association’s “exceptionally meritorious contributions to improving health in the Americas.”

“We are humbled and grateful for the award,” said Georges Benjamin, APHA executive director. “To have the work of APHA be recognized and celebrated before health leaders of the world is an honor I share with all APHA members.”

PAHO also released the 2012 edition of Health in the Americas, which reports on the health of the 48 countries and territories of the region.

While at the meeting, leaders of APHA and PAHO cemented their ongoing collaboration with the signing of a memorandum of understanding.

“Both organizations are committed to working together on initiatives that improve health outcomes for the people of the Americas,” said Benjamin. “We look forward to our future collaboration.”

The MOU will help guide the organizations in joint projects and activities such as participation in World Health Day and National Public Health Week, conferences and Spanish translations of research.

For more about this week’s meeting, visit the Pan American Sanitary Conference Blog.