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Americas not on track to meet global goals for maternal health and mortality, says PAHO Director – PAHO/WHO

New York, NY, September 22, 2022 (OPS) Speaking at a high-level event on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa F. Etienne highlighted the compounding effect of COVID- 19 on the health of women, children and adolescents in the region, which have placed these groups at greater risk and threaten to undo the progress made in recent decades.

“It is clear that we must act now to protect the future of our Region,” Dr Etienne said today in a video message at the 11th Accountability Breakfast, hosted by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and infant (PMNCH).

Widespread disruptions to maternal and newborn care have left pregnant women and their babies without support during one of the most critical times in a woman’s life and a baby’s growth,” the director said in her statement.

Young women remained particularly vulnerable, she added, as “disruptions to family planning services have fueled one of the largest increases in teenage pregnancies we’ve seen in more than a decade.” The Americas have the second highest rate of teen pregnancy in the world.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) side event, Tackling Conflict, Climate Change and COVID-19: A Triple Threat to Women, Children and Adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean, featured high-level speakers to examine the impact of the current crises and the way forward to address them.

The Director of PAHO participated in a panel alongside Kersti Kaljulaid, United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Advocate for Every Woman and Child and former President of Estonia, and Martin Chungong, Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). Other attendees included Helen Clark, PMNCH Board Chair and former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Christopher Tufton, Jamaica’s Minister of Health, and Rossana Briceno, Chair of the Leaders’ Spouse Action Network. of CARICOM.

Dr Etienne also warned that gender-based violence is on the rise in the Americas and that school disruptions have triggered “the worst educational crisis we have ever seen”, as “our children have missed more days of school than children from any other region.

Children and adolescents in our region are at risk of becoming the generation that missed out on the health, education and economic opportunities they needed to reach their full potential,” she warned.

Looking ahead, the director reminded the panel that Latin America and the Caribbean has made remarkable progress over the past decades in reducing child mortality and expanding access to health services, and urged leaders to “Building on these past experiences and refocusing our efforts as we rebuild from this pandemic.

This includes stepping up efforts to restore annual checkups for children and routine vaccinations against preventable diseases like polio, measles and rubella, which have lagged during the pandemic.

She also called for comprehensive, evidence-based programs to empower schools, communities and families to care for young people so they can thrive, and urged countries to “bring women, children and adolescents around the table and working with them to shape interventions”. intended to achieve them. »

As part of PAHO’s participation in the UNGA, Acting Deputy Director Marcos Espinal also participated in a high-level roundtable on global solutions to deal with infectious diseases on September 21, organized by Wellcome Trust.

Established in 2005 and hosted by the World Health Organization, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) is the world’s largest alliance for the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents . The PMNCH brings together 1,250 partners, including governments, NGOs, adolescent and youth groups, private sector organizations, health professional associations, academic and research institutions, intergovernmental organizations and agencies. United Nations.