Dr. Carissa Etienne has described the process of being elected to the post of Director General of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) as ‘a spiritual journey.’
The Massacre native was elected on Wednesday by PAHO Member States during the 28th Pan American Sanitary Conference in Washington DC.
She told state-owned DBS radio she was sitting upstairs of the conference room with her husband and a friend when she heard her name being mentioned as the one to take up the post. “I shouted ‘thank God, let God be praised’ because I take it very much as a spiritual journey and I know lots of Dominicans have been praying for me,” she said.
She described the moment when she learned of the news as an ecstatic one. “It was a moment of joy not only for me because I was thinking this is a tiny island of Dominica, 70,000 people, and we got the opportunity to lead,” she said.
Dr. Etienne also thanked Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and Health Minister Julius Timothy for what she said was their efforts in ensuring she got the top PAHO job. “Thank you to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health who have done such a tremendous job in ensuring we have the necessary votes,” she stated.
Meanwhile PM Skerrit said Dr. Etienne’s win is a sign that his administration’s foreign policy is working. “Dr. Carissa Etienne’s election signals the absolute confidence which the international health community has in her credentials but it also speaks to the respect, admiration and influence that the government of Dominica has in the international and regional communities,” he said during a press conference after the news of Dr. Etienne’s election was made public. “To have been able to garner enough support to elect a young girl from the village of Massacre as the director of the Pan American Health Organization.”
He continued, “Our foreign policy is working and is bearing fruits. Our cultivation of friendships with nations globally continues to bring great respect and pride to our people here in Dominica.”
In the run up to the elections, Dr. Etienne had received the commitment of CARICOM and many Latin American countries.
She was one of five candidates vying for the position but during the conference two member states, Uruguay and Peru, withdrew their candidates and she was left to go up against Costa Rica and Ecuador.
Dr. Etienne will begin her five-year mandate on February 1, 2013 replacing Dr. Mirta Roses Periago who has been Director of the organization since February 1, 2003.
Copyright 2012 Dominica News Online, DURAVISION INC. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.