The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO). PAHO Headquarters are in Washington, D.C. PAHO has 38 member governments, including the United States. PAHO is recognized internationally as part of the United Nations system.
PAHO collaborates with Ministries of Health, social security agencies, other government institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), universities, community groups, and others to strengthen national and local health systems. PAHO seeks to improve the health of the peoples of the Americas.
PAN AMERICAN SANITARY BUREAU
The Pan American Sanitary Bureau is the Secretariat of the PAHO. As an administrative agency, its mission is to cooperate technically with Member Countries. A document titled “Strategic and Programmatic Operation, 1999-2002” contains a section on Health Promotion and Protection, which may be of particular interest to the chiropractic profession. Relevant excerpts are quoted in the following section.
Health promotion and protection
“Inasmuch as health is the main component of human development, its promotion must, perforce, involve a much broader scope of action than that customarily handled by health systems and services. Most of the considerations related to the health of populations are based on their living conditions, the fulfillment of their basic needs, the quality of their environment, the culture to which they belong, and their knowledge, attitudes, and practices with regard to health. Given the conditions that still persist in the Region, health promotion and protection is considered a powerful strategy in the concept and practice of public health, as well as the fulcrum of a new paradigm aimed at affecting the detriments of health in general.
“As a way to jointly create with the countries a new culture of health promotion and protection where health becomes a social value — which implies training individuals and communities, as well as public, non-governmental, and private institutions to individually and collectively assume their responsibilities for preserving and continually improving their health and well being — technical cooperation will be provided to:
Acknowledging the role of health promotion as a tool for empowerment, emphasizing its importance in the regional forums for presidents and heads of state and first ladies of the Region.
- Promoting the formulation of policies, plans, programs, standards, and tools for health promotion.
- Supporting cooperative and operations research through the network of Collaborating Centers.
- Continuing to design and strengthen methodologies and models for the evaluation of health promotion programs and interventions, the development of environmental initiatives or healthy spaces in schools and municipios, and the consolidation of networks of mayors, health secretariats, and school health associations.
- Developing intersectorial work strategies, mobilizing technical, scientific, political, and financial resources in support of health promotion; and developing technical, political and social support networks at all levels, including strategic alliances between the Pan American Health Organization and both the international community and the relevant organizations in the countries.
- Promoting the use of social communication in health, especially through the mass media.
“Inasmuch as the operationalization of the strategies and programs for health promotion and protection are relatively recent in most of the countries and that there are solid indications that this is an absolutely essential strategy that should be part and parcel of all health actions, PASB will devote special efforts to:
- Disseminating scientific and technical information on health promotion and protection to the greatest number and variety of individuals working in public health in the Region and developing national capabilities for the analysis and use of this information.
- Promoting evaluation of both inputs and processes, as well as short-term and long-term effects of the health promotion strategies, and documenting, analyzing, and disseminating information on the national experiences in health promotion, noting the cost-effectiveness of these strategies compared to curative and rehabilitation activities and health.
- Promoting the adoption of healthy lifestyles and risk prevention through anticipatory behaviors.
- Promoting the use of the life cycle, family cycle, and gender approaches.
- Promoting the restructuring of the services to enable them to incorporate these kinds of interventions and make comprehensive health care a reality.
“In order to foster human development and prevent disease throughout the life cycle, priority will be given to cooperation in the following areas:
- Family health and population, which attaches special importance to promoting and assessing and development at different ages; this includes programs for adolescent health, reproductive health, and health of the elderly.
- Food and nutrition, with special attention to malnutrition, the fortification of food and micronutrients, breast-feeding, supplementary feeding, nutritional guidelines for the different age groups, and food security.
- Healthy lifestyles and mental health, particularly preventing the use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs; domestic violence; and child abuse, including social communication in health for the entire Organization, as well as health education and community participation, an area that involves initiatives to promote healthy schools, healthy municipios, and healthy spaces.”
Chiropractic and health promotion
The values and strategies expressed in this document represent potential opportunities for the chiropractic profession. Chiropractors acknowledge that:
- The body is a self-healing mechanism.
- The nervous system is the master and director of body function. Everything a human being perceives, and every human expression is mediated by the nervous system.
- If there is interference with nervous system function, it will compromise the human experience.
- Chiropractic care provides an effective clinical strategy for detecting and correcting vertebral subluxations, which cause interference with nervous system function.
- Chiropractic philosophy provides a cultural context for global health promotion strategies.
It is up to the chiropractic profession and the international community to bring this vision to the citizens of the world.