Alliance board member, Dr Carissa Etienne elected Regional Director of PAHO

Dr Carissa Etienne at the 28th Pan American Sanitary Conference
Dr Carissa Etienne at the 28th Pan American Sanitary Conference

The Alliance Secretariat and Board extends its heartfelt congratulations to Alliance Board member, Dr Carissa Etienne who has been elected to serve as Regional Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for the Americas. The Alliance Board has greatly benefitted from her experience and continued contribution. The Alliance regards the election as a favourable opportunity to strengthen the role of PAHO countries in supporting health workforce development.

Dr Etienne is currently Assistant Director General, Health Systems and Services, of the WHO in Geneva. Dr Etienne has been instrumental for the close collaboration between the work of the WHO and that of the Alliance, a collaboration which the Alliance hopes to sustain. Dr Etienne’s leadership, which recognized the need to put the health workforce at the heart of health systems has been pivotal in moving forward the human resources for health agenda.

In her acceptance speech, Dr Etienne said her vision of the Americas is one of "societies free of inequality, where people have access to healthy social determinants and environments that allow them to live long, dignified, healthy, and productive lives. This includes access to universal health services without fear of being impoverished." This vision is based on "the hopes and dreams that I have kindled during a career in public health spanning more than 30 years," she added.

Dr Etienne holds degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of the West Indies as well as a master's in community health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In her native Dominica, she 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. From 2003 to 2008 she served as Assistant Director of PAHO.

A congratulatory letter has been sent to Dr Etienne on behalf of the Alliance Board. The Alliance wishes her every success in her new post, (which she will assume in February 2013) and looks forward to strengthening collaboration to improve the health workforce situation in the PHAO region.