The first day of the PAHO Regional Meeting started off with welcomes from representatives of the health organizations represented at the table, including a particularly enigmatic address to delegates by Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO. Re-affirming her commitments to renewal of the WHO, she also markedly made the statement that she wanted to be seen internationally as the ‘number-one enemy’ of the tobacco industry. Theatrical, perhaps, but Director General Chan relevantly framed the issues of the week ahead and animated – at least to this medical student – the core concepts in public health that are affecting the member states of the Americas and of other regions.
With some procedural motions filling the day, the highlight of this first day of meetings was the introduction of the US for an agenda item to discuss the disparities in access of healthcare resources amongst LGBT populations. Echoing the support for these populations based on concepts of equity, country after country spoke up in favour of ensuring that LGBT populations would be able to achieve the same standards of health as other populations through equal access to resources and that this would be done in an environment free of discrimination. While the main discussion on this topic will occur later in the week, the moment supported IFMSA’s position on the topic and one which the delegation is looking forward to speaking to through an intervention.