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    DR & Central America Agree on Common Health, Pharma Policies/Programs

    By Keith R | January 31, 2009

    Topics: Health Issues, Pharmaceutical Issues, Sanitation, Waste & Recycling | No Comments »

          
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    It doesn’t get much attention outside this corner of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), but the annual Meeting of the Health Sector of Central America and the Dominican Republic (Reunión del Sector Salud de Centro América y República Dominicana – RESSCAD) is quietly doing important work to change health policy among its seven member states (Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama).  RESSCAD just concluded its 24th session in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

    The basic idea behind RESSCAD (whether its participants admit it or not) is that it is difficult for small countries such as its member states to work alone on improving health and nutrition, and individually their concerns tend to get lost among, or overshadowed by, the bigger nations in multilateral health forums such as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and World Health Organization (WHO), but when working together they can get more done and receive more attention from aid donors and international organizations.

    RESSCAD has been around under various names and compositions since 1956, but its work has noticeably picked up and deepened since 1998, when the Dominican Republic joined and the social security, water and sanitation sector authorities were brought fully into the fold.  RESSCAD meetings usually involve not only representatives of health authorities and these sectors, but also representatives from PAHO and the Nutrition Institute for Central America and Panama (Instituto de Nutrición de Centro América y PanamáINCAP).

    As detailed below, this latest meeting discussed common steps the member states could take regarding pharmaceuticals, chronic non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular disease, arterial hypertension, cancer, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), tobacco and alcohol consumption, sanitation, management of solid wastes, and cancer prevention.  The meeting also discussed subregional implementation of WHO’s updated international health regulations.

    Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases

    RESSCAD heard presentations on PAHO’s work to implement the regional strategy on chronic non-communicable diseases, Guatemala’s efforts to implement the regional strategy, and Mexico’s national program.  RESSCAD decided to

    Sanitation and Solid Wastes

    RESSCAD heard a presentation on the current status of access to potable water and sanitation in Central America and the Dominican Republic, and a presentation by the Forum on Potable Water and Sanitation of Central America and the Dominican Republic (FOCARD-APS) on an outline of the proposal for a Regional Sanitation Strategy.  FOCARD-APS proposed, and RESSCAD approved, a work plan with the following elements:

    RESSCAD further decided to

    Cancer Prevention

    RESSCAD considered and approved the Sub-regional Plan on Cancer Prevention in Central America and the Dominican Republic.  Among other things, the Plan calls for:

    RESSCAD created a sub-regional technical commission on cancer to

    Pharmaceuticals

    RESSCAD examined a report on the status of the work program of the Subregional Technical Committee on Pharmaceuticals (CTSM), as well as the proposed terms of reference and procedures for joint negotiations with pharmaceutical companies on discount prices for medicines.  Among other things, the CTSM’s work program foresees for 2009

    Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala reported that they have taken steps to adopt the Medicines Policy of Central America and the Dominican Republic, while Panama reported that it has incorporated the subregional Policy’s elements into their own draft national pharmaceutical policy.

    In the end RESSCAD

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