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PAHO, UNICEF Working Together to support LAC Countries

Washington, D.C., April 25, 2008 (PAHO)—Top officials and technical experts from UNICEF visited the Pan American Health Organization today to discuss areas of joint collaboration including water and sanitation, nutrition, social support for mothers and children, work in health emergencies and risk communications focusing on pregnant women, children and adolescents.

Dr. Nils Kastberg, Director of the UNICEF regional office, and PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses Periago.

Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, Director of PAHO and Dr. Nils Kastberg, Director of the UNICEF regional office shared the moral imperatives of helping excluded populations to address the unfinished agenda and accelerate progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

"LAC continues to be the most unequal of all regions of the world, therefore, I have often called the attention to avoid the tyranny of averages" insisted Mirta Roses. Nils Kastberg reaffirmed "We must reach the most isolated municipalities, the most forgotten indigenous group, the most excluded afro descendant to make the right to health a reality to present and future generations."

PAHO, based in Washington, and the UNICEF office, based in Panama, have a long history of close collaboration, particularly in areas related to maternal and child health, but officials said they want to move on joint programming and pooling of their resources to help improve the health of people in the Americas.

Sixty seven experts from both organizations worked together on primary health care, immunization and nutrition, family health and children and essential medicine, to increase staff interaction and identify barriers as wells as, lessons learned and best practices to scale up. Country offices participated through internet linkages.

Other key areas discussed were violence, adolescent health and especially on HIV/AIDS.

Regarding environmental health and indigenous peoples, experts said they would seek to improve data collection and collaborate on PAHO's action plan to reduce the effects of climate change, as well as continue working together on health-promoting schools, disaster risk reduction, the rights of migrant children, and better analysis of social exclusion.

Both Organizations agreed to launch an initiative to address the needs of communities with the highest level of maternal and infant mortality and chronic malnutrition, including border areas and poorest villages. "We are committed to make visible the darkest areas of our continent, reaching and empowering the people to improve their lives" claimed both Directors.

PAHO was established in 1902 and is the world's oldest public health organization. It works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and the quality of life of people of the Americas, and serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

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For more information please contact , PAHO, Public Information, 202-974-3459. For photographs, contact , Tel. 202-974 3036.

Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
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