UWI Alumna Dr. Carissa F. Etienne re-elected for second term as PAHO Director

Dr. Carissa F. Etienne was re-elected today for a second five-year term as Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) by the Member States of the organization.

Ministers of health meeting at the 29th Pan American Sanitary Conference voted unanimously to re-elect Dr. Etienne. Her candidacy, which was not contested, was submitted by the Government of Dominica, her native country. She will assume her second term as Director of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau, PAHO’s Secretariat, on February 1, 2018.

In her acceptance speech, Dr. Etienne cited her “commitment to deliver to all of our peoples, from all walks of society, a long and productive life, with quality care into our senior years; access to quality health services without fear of impoverishment; access to medicines and vaccines that we can afford, including effective antibiotics; freedom from preventable diseases, with reduced exposure to disease vectors.”

She said access to sexual and reproductive health services; to healthy, nutritious food; and to clean water and adequate sanitation were important, along with safe refuge and adequate health care in the face of disasters and health emergencies.

“Action by the health sector alone will not be sufficient to achieve our objectives,” Dr. Etienne said. “This is why, when I visit your countries, I meet with heads of state and officials from across other sectors. Looking beyond government, however, I am convinced that we must mobilize our partners in academia, civil society and the private sector” to improve health.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is attending this week’s conference, said, “I can see the unity of this region” in voting unanimously for Dr. Etienne. “I have seen her leadership in dealing with Zika, hurricanes and emergencies and how swiftly she reacts. We will communicate often and work well together.”

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 supported Member States in coping with major epidemics, including Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever, as well as disasters that have ranged from hurricanes and catastrophic flooding to earthquakes and droughts. PAHO’s technical cooperation has also helped countries strengthen their abilities to detect and respond to health threats of potential international concern, under the International Health Regulations (IHR). Read more

Source: St. Lucia News Online