Dr. Etiene after she was elected head of PAHO

Dominican Dr. Carissa Etienne will be the new Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

She was elected today by PAHO Member States during the 28th Pan American Sanitary Conference.

Dr. Etienne will begin her five-year term on 1 February 2013, replacing Dr. Mirta Roses Periago of Argentina, who has been PAHO Director since 2003.

Dr. Etienne is currently Assistant Director General, Health Systems and Services, of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. From 2003 to 2008 she served as Assistant Director of PAHO, WHO’s Regional Office for the Americas.

She holds degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of the West Indies as well as a master’s in community health and an honorary diploma in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

In Dominica, she has served as Chief Medical Officer (in 2000-2002 and 1995-1996), Director of Primary Health Care Services, Disaster Coordinator, and National Epidemiologist in the Ministry of Health.

She also served as Coordinator of the National AIDS Program and as Chairman of the National AIDS Committee. She served twice as Medical Director of the Princess Margaret Hospital and was an Associate Professor at the Ross University School of Medicine.

At WHO, Dr. Etienne led efforts to renew primary health care (PHC) at the global level and to strengthen health systems based on PHC, promoting integration and improved functioning of health systems. She promoted policy directions to reduce health inequalities and advance health for all through univesral coverage, people centered care, the integration of health into broader public policies, and inclusive and participatory health leadership. At PAHO, she led the renewal of PHC in the Americas and the development of a regional strategy for implementing PHC-based health systems, including Integrated Health Service Delivery Networks.

PAHO celebrates its 110th anniversary this year and is the world’s oldest international public health organization. It works with all the countries of the hemisphere to improve the health and quality of life of the peoples of the Americas and serves as the WHO Regional Office for the Americas.