Geneva, 25 May 2023 (PAHO/WHO) – Discussions continue on issues of importance to the Americas at the 76th World Health Assembly, which is being held this week (21-30 May) in Geneva, Switzerland.

On May 24, a progress report on the Global Strategy for the Health of Girls, Children and Adolescents (2016-2030) was presented, calling on countries to increase investment in family planning interventions and routine postnatal care for women and newborns in an attempt to reduce child mortality.

The report pointed out that in most regions of the world – with the exception of Southeast Asia – maternal and child mortality rates are either stagnating or increasing. Most of these deaths are preventable and result from a lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services and antenatal care.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, nearly 8,400 women die each year from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, with a disproportionate impact on poor women and those from minority ethnic groups. About 9 out of 10 of these deaths are preventable.

During the discussion, the countries of the Americas highlighted the importance of recovering progress towards maternal mortality following the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular focus on women from vulnerable populations, as well as strengthening adolescent mental health initiatives.

The WHO Global Strategy provides countries with a roadmap to end preventable maternal, infant and child deaths, including stillbirths, by 2030, and to improve their overall health and well-being.

During a strategic roundtable on the role of the health community in climate action, which was also held on May 24 and included interventions by COP28 Director General Adnan Z. Amin and the first United States presidential climate envoy John Kerry, participants emphasized the essential link between climate change and health.

Over the past decades, climate change has led to an increase in extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and floods, as well as an increase in infectious and vector-borne diseases.

This is of particular concern in the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Caribbean, which are on the front lines of climate change impacts in the Region, yet contribute a relatively small percentage of greenhouse gas emissions, the main driver of global warming.

During the roundtable, participants highlighted that health should be a strong argument for advancing the call to action in response to climate change ahead of COP28.

By Editor

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