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Health Minister Regrets Passing of Former PAHO Director

KINGSTON, Jamaica. Friday, December 1, 2023: Minister of Health & Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton MP has expressed his deep regret at the passing of Former Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa Eitenne earlier this morning.

Dr. Tufton has described her as a dynamic leader, who provided strategic guidance to the Region and was instrumental in several public health initiatives including the COVID-19 pandemic response; the control of the Zika and Chikungunya epidemics,  and the elimination of measles, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome, where the Americas being the first Region to successfully do so.

“During her tenure at both WHO and PAHO, Dr. Etienne led the efforts to renew primary health care and to strengthen health systems based on primary health care, promoting integration and improved functioning of health systems. She has also spearheaded policy directions for reducing health inequalities and advancing health for all through universal coverage, people-centered care, the integration of health into broader public policies, and inclusive and participatory health leadership,” Dr. Tufton noted. 

Dr. Etienne’s last official visit to Jamaica was in July 2022, where she was the guest speaker at the COVID-19 Donors Recognition Banquet.

Dr Carissa F. Etienne began her career in her native Dominica as a medical officer at the Princess Margaret Hospital and was later appointed as the Chief Medical Officer of that country. She received her medical degree (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery-MBBS) from the University of the West Indies, Mona Jamaica, and her Master of Science Degree (MSc) in Community Health in Developing Countries from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London.

From March 2008 to November 2012, Dr. Etienne served as Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Services at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to that, as Assistant Director of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau where she led five technical arears: Health Systems and Services; Technology, Health Care, and Research; Health Surveillance and Disease Management; Family and Community Health; and Sustainable Development and Environmental Health.

Dr. Etienne, who retired after 10 years as PAHO Director, was declared Director-Emeritus on September 30, 2022, at the 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference.