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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 97, Issue 6, pp I2–I7 | Cite as

Juggling Demands

Canadian Health Aid to Latin America Since World War II
  • Klaudia A. Dmitrienko
  • Anne-Emanuelle BirnEmail author
Article

Abstract

Background

Since the development of the Commonwealth’s 1950 Colombo Plan (Canada’s first official aid program), health-related development assistance has been an important instrument of Canadian foreign policy, allowing it to gain a presence in a range of countries and help to shape international affairs. This pattern is evident in the history of Canadian multilateral and bilateral health aid to Latin America.

Methods

This analysis draws on historical material from the Departments of External Affairs and National Health and Welfare held at the Library and National Archives of Canada regarding Canadian involvement with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and program information from the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) Corporate Reporting Services Group.

Findings

Canada was initially a tentative player in the region. However, as Canadian foreign policy interests shifted towards the region in the 1970s, Canada used both multilateral and bilateral health aid to establish a presence in Latin America that was independent from, yet unthreatening to, United States hegemony in the region.

Conclusion

The impact of Canada’s provision of health aid to Latin America via PAHO and CIDA has been largely symbolic, allowing Canada to pursue an independent foreign policy in the region and to foster a positive international image for itself with minimal spending.

MeSHterms

Foreign aid Canada Latin America PAHO international cooperation history 

Résumé

Contexte

Depuis l’élaboration du Plan de Colombo du Commonwealth en 1950 (le premier programme d’aide officiel du Canada), l’aide au développement liée à la santé s’est avérée un instrument important de la politique étrangère canadienne, un instrument qui permet au Canada d’être présent dans divers pays et de jouer un rôle sur la scène internationale. C’est clairement ce qui s’est passé dans l’histoire de l’aide sanitaire multilatérale et bilatérale du Canada en Amérique latine.

Méthode

Notre analyse est fondée sur les documents historiques des ministères des Affaires extérieures et de la Santé nationale et du Bien-être social conservés à la Bibliothèque nationale et aux Archives nationales du Canada portant sur le rôle du Canada au sein de l’Organisation panaméricaine de la santé (OPS). Nous avons aussi consulté l’information sur les programmes détenue par le Groupe des rapports de l’Agence canadienne de développement international (ACDI).

Constatations

Au départ, le Canada était hésitant quant à son rôle dans la région. Mais lorsque les intérêts de la politique étrangère canadienne se sont recentrés vers l’Amérique latine au cours des années 1970, le Canada s’est servi de son aide multilatérale et bilatérale en matière de santé pour se doter d’une présence à part entière dans la région, sans pour autant menacer l’hégémonie des États-Unis.

Conclusion

La prestation par le Canada d’une aide sanitaire à l’Amérique latine par le biais de l’OPS et de l’ACDI a eu principalement un impact symbolique, en permettant au Canada de mener une politique étrangère indépendante dans la région et de se donner à peu de frais une image positive sur la scène internationale.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Canada Research Chair in International Health, Department of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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