The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Government of Spain signed an agreement on Monday (March 6) to strengthen organ donation and transplants in the Americas.
“Spain is a very important partner of PAHO thanks to its support of key initiatives in the region,” Dr Jarbas Barbosa, PAHO Director, said at the signing of the memorandum of understanding with the minister of Health of the Government of Spain, Carolina Darias, in Washington D.C.
During the meeting, various areas of cooperation were discussed including primary health care; vaccine production; medicines and health technologies in the region; antimicrobial resistance; equity, gender and cultural diversity, and vaccination against COVID-19.
“Spain is a constant ally of the region,” minister Darius said, highlighting that the new agreement will facilitate a meeting of the Ibero-American Network [or] Council for Donation and Transplant, a key initiative to improve legislative matters, professional training, and the discussion of ethical and social aspects of organ donation and transplant. The Network is made up of 21 countries in Latin America, Spain and Portugal.
In 2021, more than 58,000 transplants were performed in the Americas, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Observatory on Donation and Transplantation (GODT), managed by the National Transplant Organization (ONT) of Spain. This number is not enough to meet demand, leaving thousands of people on the waiting list.
As part of the memorandum, activities were also agreed upon to support PAHO’s Strategy and Plan of Action on Donation and Equitable Access to Organ, Tissue, and Cell Transplants 2019-2030.
Although the region has the highest deceased donor rate per million people of the six WHO regions, this rate varies considerably between countries. The COVID-19 pandemic also led to a sharp reduction in donation rates and, in some cases, the closure of donation and transplant services.
The memorandum agreements will be implemented by technical teams of PAHO and ONT, an agency of the Ministry of Health of Spain and WHO collaborating centre, recognized globally as a highly effective model for addressing organ shortages.
PAHO engages in technical cooperation with national donation and transplant programs in the region to ensure availability and access to organs, tissue and cells, as well as transparency and the fight against organ and tissue trafficking.
The collaboration between Spain and PAHO began in 1980 when the country joined PAHO as an Observer State. Since then, Spain has become a key partner in areas such as resilient health systems, access to quality services; emergency preparedness and response; and the fight against infectious diseases.
Spain has also been a key partner in pandemic response efforts in the Americas, supporting vaccination against COVID-19 with the contribution of more than 22 million vaccines to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.