The Pan American Health Organization is an international public health agency working to improve health and living standards of the people of the Americas. It is part of the United Nations system, serving as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization and as the health organization of the Inter-American System.
The organization was founded in December 1902. It was originally called the Pan-American Sanitary Bureau. In 1949, PAHO and WHO signed an agreement making PAHO the American Regional Office (AMRO) of WHO. Today the usual phrasing is "Regional Office for the Americas".
PAHO has scientific and technical expertise at its headquarters, in its 27 country offices, and its three Pan American centers, all working with the countries of the Americas in dealing with priority health issues. The health authorities of PAHO's Member States set PAHO's technical and administrative policies through its Governing Bodies. PAHO Member States include all 35 countries in the Americas; Puerto Rico is an Associate Member. France, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are Participating States, and Portugal and Spain are Observer States.
The Organization's essential mission is to strengthen national and local health systems and improve the health of the peoples of the Americas, in collaboration with Ministries of Health, other government and international agencies, nongovernmental organizations, universities, social security agencies, community groups, and many others.