PAHO Director meets with Canada’s Minister of Health to discuss ongoing collaboration with the country

PAHO. PAHO/Discussion with Canada’s Health Minister on advancing collaboration to enhance quality of life and health in the Americas. Credit: PAHO

Ottawa: During an official visit to Canada this week, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, met with the country’s Minister of Health, Mark Holland, as well as other high-level health officials, to discuss ongoing collaboration to enhance quality of life and health in the Americas.

At his meeting with the Minister of Health, Dr. Barbosa underscored pressing health issues in the Americas, including the pandemic treaty, and the chronic shortage of health personnel in the region, which is projected to reach up to 2 million professionals by 2030.  The PAHO Director also highlighted the importance of the Organization’s Regional Revolving Funds in helping to reduce cost and increase availability of quality vaccines and other health technologies, particularly in a post-pandemic context. 

“This visit has enabled us to strengthen our ongoing collaboration and outline new opportunities for engagement, leveraging Canadian know-how and expertise,” Dr. Barbosa said.

During his visit, the PAHO Director also met with the Minister of International Development of Canada, Ahmed Hussen, to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health and other social determinants, as well as the need to ensure international programs to sustain and protect health gains in the Americas.

In a dialogue with the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Ya’ara Saks, the officials acknowledged the uptick in mental health issues following the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw an estimated 35% increase in major depressive disorders in Latin America and the Caribbean. They also explored ways to increase joint work, including in the implementation of PAHO’s Strategy for improving mental health and suicide prevention in the region of the Americas.

Indigenous populations of the Americas were top of the agenda in a meeting with Director General for the Office of Population and Public Health and the Chief Science Officer at the First Nations and Inuit Health Brand of Indigenous Services Canada, Tom Wong. Dr. Barbosa highlighted the unique health challenges faced by Indigenous communities in the region and discussed potential opportunities for PAHO and Canada to support Indigenous-led efforts to address health inequities.

During his official visit, Dr. Barbosa also met with Director General, Office of International Affairs for the Health Portfolio of the Public Health Agency, Christine Harmston; the Chair of the Senate Standing Committee, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Peter M. Boehm; Director General Health and Nutrition Bureau, Jean Bernard Parenteau; Assistant Deputy Minister of the Health Environments and Consumer Safety Branch of Health Canada; among other officials.

On Tuesday 9 April, Dr. Barbosa signed an agreement with the University of Ottawa to promote exchange and technical cooperation in projects related to capacity building, research, and knowledge transfer on the health and other related rights of Indigenous Peoples.