WHO Board Chooses New Americas Region Director

Dr. Carissa Etienne will start a five-year term on Feb. 1. She has served as the Commonwealth of Dominica's chief medical officer and assistant director of the Pan American Health Organization.

Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Health Organization's Executive Board has appointed Dr. Carissa Etienne as the new regional director of WHO's Americas Region. She was nomination by the Regional Committee for the Americas in September 2012 and will begin a five-year term on Feb. 1. Etienne succeeds Dr. Mirta Roses Periago of Argentina.

"I believe strongly that good health is rooted in equity, universality, solidarity, and inclusiveness," Etienne said in her acceptance speech, according to a Jan. 22 article posted on the WHO website. "I have learned that Universal Health Coverage is not only the best way to improve the health of every citizen in a country, but that it is entirely feasible."

Etienne is from the Commonwealth of Dominica, a small island in the Lesser Antilles. She has degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of the West Indies and a master's degree in community health and an honorary diploma in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She served twice as Chief Medical Officer for Dominica (in 2000-2002 and 1995-1996) and director of Primary Health Care Services, disaster coordinator, and national epidemiologist in the Ministry of Health. She was assistant director of the Pan American Health Organization, WHO's Regional Office for the Americas, from 2003 to 2008 and from 2008-2012 was assistant director-general, Health Systems and Services, at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

There are 38 members in the Regional Office for the Americas, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Puerto Rico is an associate member, and Spain and Portugal are Observer States in the region.

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