Health Surveillance and Disease Prevention and Control at PAHO

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This fact sheet outlines the mission, focus, and priority areas of the Technical Area for Health Surveillance and Disease Prevention and Control (AD/HSD) of the Pan American Health Organization, as well as links to the four Technical Units and one Regional Pan American Center under its umbrella.


  • Promote, coordinate, and implement technical-cooperation activities that are technically sound and appropriate for the culture and society directed to the prevention, control, and elimination of communicable and noncommunicable diseases and zoonoses.
  • Strive to achieve sustainable impact through strengthened country capacity and effective inter-country collaboration.
  • Collaborate to strengthen sustainable capacity in Member Countries at the individual and collective levels to measure, prevent, control, and eliminate disease.
  • Assist Member Countries in the development of health-situation analysis for policy- and decision-making.

Main Activities

  • To eradicate, eliminate, prevent and control disease.
  • To strengthen the capacity of PAHO member states to do so by
    • Promoting technically feasible, economically viable, and socially acceptable programs in the areas of communicable diseases, noncommunicable diseases, zoonoses, and foot-and-mouth disease.
    • Aiming its technical-cooperation activities at having a positive impact on public health that can be sustained by the countries of the Region.
  • To develop sustainable capacity to effectively address public-health problems, which requires
    • Adequate, reliable data on health problems.
    • Evidence-based policies and plans.
    • Allocating sufficient financial resources to support effective interventions.
    • Human resources with the proper training to implement plans.
    • High-quality programs in place throughout the Region.
    • Ongoing evaluation and quality control to ensure effectiveness and to address changing needs.
    • Improving country statistical data and information systems that collect, validate, analyze, and disseminate mortality and morbidity data, as well as other relevant indicators of health and development, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
  • To provide technical cooperation to thus assist countries at each of the aforementioned levels, depending on the health problems being addressed and the existing capacity and committment of the country: while older initiatives focus more on implementation issues, new ones focus on collecting reliable data and developing sound policies.

Main Focus

  • Within a spirit of equity and Panamericanism, to raise the awareness of national institutions to the fact that, while infectious and reemerging diseases continue to pose a significant problem in the Region, chronic and non-communicable diseases are also on the rise.
  • To correct desegregated data to better understand and address problems of inequity in disease prevention and control programs.
  • To continue to support technical-cooperation projects among countries as well as other forms of collaboration.

Priority Areas

All HSD Programs have a renewed commitment to disease prevention and recognize the importance of behavior change in this regard. Social communication has therefore become a common interest. The shared agenda with the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank includes the development of surveillance capacity in the countries for both communicable and noncommunicable diseases.

Units and Centers

The Area of Health Surveillance and Disease Management carries out it mandate through four Technical Units and two Pan American Centers:

Each Technical Unit is headed by a Unit Chief and encompasses a variety of Regional Programs headed by a Regional Advisor.