The 58th Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) took place virtually in 2020, where Health Ministers and high-country officials discussed the region’s response to the COVID -19 pandemic, as well as other challenges.
The Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (BIREME), a PAHO/WHO Regional Scientific Information Center, was on the agenda the replacement of two member countries of its Advisory Committee.
The presentation of this agenda item was the responsibility of the Deputy Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Mary Lou Valdez. The countries that will be replaced from 2021 on are El Salvador and Barbados, to which BIREME is very grateful for the work they have done, their active participation in the AC and the contributions they made. Colombia and Costa Rica were nominated as candidates at the request of their Health Ministers and accepted unanimously. Colombian and United States interventions in support of BIREME’s work were very welcome during the session.
Moreover, the advances in BIREME’s products and services were presented in the report of PAHO’s Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne to the Directing Council. The report mentions training activities, VHL, LILACS, DeCS, contributions to the WHO database on COVID-19, Evidence Maps, e-BlueInfo, the Referral Network, Windows of Knowledge, Scholarly Communication Courses in Health Sciences, Red de Evaluación de Tecnologías en Salud de las Américas (RedETSA) and the Base Regional de Informes de Evaluación de Tecnologías en Salud de las Américas (BRISA).
On BIREME’s new institutionality
In effect since January 2010, BIREME’s new institutional framework defines in its Statute the governance structure, which establishes the Advisory (CA) and Scientific (CC) Committees to exercise advisory functions to the PAHO/WHO Directorate, in all that it relates to the Centre’s programmatic, managerial and technical cooperation functions.
Article VI of the BIREME Statute, approved by the 49th Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), Resolution CD49.R5, establishes that the BIREME Board of Directors will be composed of a representative appointed by the Director of PAHO/WHO and another nominated by the Government of Brazil as permanent members, and that the five non-permanent members should be selected and appointed by the Directing Council or by the PAHO Pan American Sanitary Conference, taking into account the representation of geographic location, rotation and balance in the participation of the different PAHO committees.
It is BIREME’s Advisory Committee responsibility, among other functions, to make recommendations to the Director of the Organization on BIREME’s programmatic functions, based on the PAHO Strategic Plan and the PAHO Technical Cooperation Work Plan, as well as the recommendations of members of the BIREME Scientific Committee (Article VI, 4[a]).
 Pan American Health Organization. Ministers of Health of the Americas will meet virtually in PAHO’s Directing Council to address health priorities. Available from: https://www.paho.org/en/news/25-9-2020-ministers-health-americas-will-meet-virtually-pahos-directing-council-address-health
 Pan American Health Organization. 58th Directing Council. Available from: https://www.paho.org/en/governing-bodies/directing-council/58th-directing-council
 Pan American Health Organization. CD58/3 – Annual Report of the Director of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau: Saving Lives and Improving Health and Well-Being. Available from: https://www.paho.org/en/documents/cd583-annual-report-director-pan-american-sanitary-bureau-saving-lives-and-improving