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BULLETIN OF THE PAN AMERICAN HEALTH ORGANIZATION. 1992; 26(4):370-8.In 1902 the First General International Sanitary Convention specified that countries should dispose of garbage to prevent the spread of diseases and to disinfect the discharges of all typhoid and cholera patients. The Pan American Sanitary Bureau was to elicit information regarding the sanitary conditions in their ports and territories and to encourage seaport sanitation, sewage disposal, soil drainage, street paving, and elimination of the sources of infection from buildings. The 2nd and 3rd Pan American Conferences of National Directors of Health, in 1931 and 1936, focused on topics of urban and rural sanitation, safe water and milk supplies, and industrial hygiene. In 1948 the Inter American Association of Sanitary Engineering (AIDIS) was created for the exchange of new ideas, experiences, and technologies. From 1942 to 1948, these special public health services benefited an estimated 23 million people by extending potable water supply and sanitation in the region and training hundreds of Latin American sanitary engineers. The 1961 American Governments' Charter of Punta del Este envisioned extending, over a 10-year period, water supply and excreta disposal services to 70% of the urban and 50% of the rural populations. In 1968, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) established the Pan American Center for Sanitary Engineering and Environmental Sciences (CEPIS), with headquarters in Lima. Over the years, CEPIS projects have encompassed air pollution, wastewater treatment and stabilization ponds, water treatment systems, solid waste collection and treatment, development of water and sewerage systems, and industrial hygiene. The 10-Year Health Plan for the Americas (1971-1980) stipulated that cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants establish programs to control pollution. 10 years later, actual coverage was: urban water supply, 82%; urban sewerage, 78%; rural water supply, 47%; and rural excreta disposal, 22%. PAHO's recent policy, Strategic Orientations and Program Priorities for 1991-1994, formulates workers' health programs with the aim of increasing service coverage to curtail risks to occupational health.