Dr Carissa F. Etienne

UWI alumna and Dominican, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne has been re-elected for a second five-year term as Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) by the Member States of the organization and she will assume her second term on February 1, 2018.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted her her leadership in dealing with zika, chikungunya and yellow fever, and disasters like hurricanes, catastrophic earthquakes and droughts and how swiftly she reacts. She works well with people and communicates often with her team. During Etienne’s first term, the countries of the Americas achieved several important health milestones with PAHO’s support. These included the elimination of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome in 2015 and the elimination of measles in 2016.

Countries also advanced in the elimination of neglected diseases including trachoma, Chagas disease, and onchocerciasis (river blindness) and the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. PAHO Member States also approved a regional strategy to achieve universal health, becoming the first WHO region to do so.

Under Etienne’s leadership, PAHO has also helped countries strengthen their abilities to detect and respond to health threats of potential international concern, under the International Health Regulations (IHR).

Dr. Etienne began her career as a medical officer at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Dominica, where she eventually became the Chief Medical Officer. She has also served in other high-level posts in Dominica, including coordinator of the National AIDS Program, disaster coordinator for the Ministry of Health, chair of the National Advisory Council for HIV/AIDS, and director of Primary Health Care Services.

She received her medical degree (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery- MBBS) from The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus; and her Master of Science (MSc) in community health in developing countries from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She served from 2008 until 2012 as Assistant Director-General for health systems and services at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

Prior to that post in Geneva, she was assistant director of PAHO from 2003 to 2008, in charge of five technical areas: Health Systems and Services; Technology, Health Care and Research; Health Surveillance and Disease Management; Family and Community Health; and Sustainable Development and Environmental Health. During her tenures at WHO and PAHO, Dr. Etienne has led efforts to promote universal health coverage and renew primary health care to strengthen health systems to be more integrated and to function better. She has also spearheaded policy directions for reducing health inequalities and advancing health for all through universal coverage, people-centered care, the integration of health into broader public policies, and inclusive and participatory health leadership.

She was recently awarded the Measles and Rubella Initiative Champion Award for PAHO’s work to eliminate measles and rubella from the Americas. She also produced the World Health Report on “Health systems financing: the path to universal coverage,” which was recognized worldwide for its agenda for action by all countries to reach universal coverage and improve health outcomes. Source: St. Lucia News Online.


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