St. John’ s Antigua- The Antigua & Barbuda government has endorsed Dominican, Dr Carissa Etienne for the position of director general of the Pan American Health Organisation, PAHO.
Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer joined his regional colleagues in giving unanimous support to Dr Etienne at the recently concluded Caricom Heads meeting in St Vincent & the Grenadines.
Dr Etienne told OBSEVER Media, from Roseau, that the support given by Antigua &Barbuda means well for her PAHO bid.
“I thank all of the islands of the Caribbean who have committed to support. For me this is a great show of unity and a show of the cooperation that exists among the member states.”
Since 2008 Dr Etienne has been employed with PAHO as assistant director-general for health systems and services.
Her country’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has been leading the campaign for the representative from the Nature Isle to get the top job in PAHO.
The director general said she is honoured by the support and will use her influence to better represent the region’s interest.
“It is always helpful to have a Caribbean person in those positions of influence. We can help influence policy, programme definition and help represent the needs of small – island developing states. Also, we are ensuring much more direct support for the Caribbean countries,” she said.
If elected, Dr Etienne will be the second Caribbean native to hold that position, the first being Sir George Alleyne.
Voting for a new director general will be held on September 20,in Washington DC, where ministers of health who are part of PAHO will cast ballots on behalf of the respective countries.
“I am hoping that the ministers of health will vote in accordance with the wishes of their leaders,” Dr Etienne said. Adding, “For me it’s an honour to represent the Caribbean.”
Dr Etienne began her career as a medical officer at the Princess Margaret Hospital in her country, where she eventually became the chief medical officer.
She has held high-level posts such as the coordinator of Dominica’s National AIDS Programme, disaster coordinator for the Ministry of Health of Dominica, chairperson for the National Advisory Council for HIV/AIDS and the director of Primary Health Care for Dominica.
In addition to serving in her homeland, Dr Etienne has been very active in the regional public health arena, particularly in the transformation of health systems and the introduction of a primary health care approach. She has had a long history of collaboration with PAHO/WHO, and was a founding member of the Technical Advisory Group for the Eastern Caribbean Drug Service.
Dr Etienne has also conducted a significant amount of research on health services in Dominica.