Archived: WMA Resolution on the Pan American Health Organization

Adopted by the 53rd WMA General Assembly, Washington, DC, USA, October 2002
and rescinded at the 63rd WMA General Assembly, Bangkok, Thailand 2012


  1. On December 2, 2002, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) will celebrate its 100th Anniversary.
  2. PAHO was the first international health organization to organize a united front against the spread of pestilence and disease that engulfed the Hemisphere at the turn of the century. Founded by eleven countries, PAHO’s first task was to eliminate yellow fever and malaria in the Panama Canal Zone. Since then, the Organization has cooperated with its Member States to eliminate or reduce the occurrence of epidemic diseases including smallpox, polio, and measles.
  3. In 1924, its functions and responsibilities were broadened by the Pan American Sanitary Code which was signed by eighteen countries. The Code, which remains in force today, was eventually ratified by all republics of the Americas, and still represents one of the great achievements in health policy-making.
  4. PAHO is now a coalition encompassing 30% of earth’s land mass and 14% of the world’s current population. It operates 29 country offices and eight scientific centers in 35 countries. PAHO’s scope has also continued to grow. The initial focus on controlling epidemic diseases has broadened to include non-communicable diseases, better health education, and environmental improvements designed to help all people, especially the poor.
  5. PAHO’s purpose as stated in its Constitution remains the same: to help the countries of the Western Hemisphere work together to combat diseases, lengthen life and promote the physical and mental health of people. With both old and new threats to health in the hemisphere, PAHO is more important today than ever.


The World Medical Association recommends:

  1. that PAHO be congratulated for its unparalleled contribution to world health;
  2. that member National Medical Associations send congratulatory letters to PAHO on the occasion of its 100th Anniversary;
  3. that member National Medical Associations in the Americas continue to offer their support to PAHO as it undertakes its mission to improve the health of people in the Hemisphere.
Anniversary, PAHO, Public Health