Nearly five months after she was elected Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dominican-born Dr. Carissa Etienne has been named Regional Director for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO Executive Board, which is holding its 132nd session here this week, said that Dr. Etienne will begin her five-year term as PAHO Director and WHO Regional Director on 1 February, succeeding Dr. Mirta Roses Periago of Argentina. PAHO serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of WHO (WHO/AMRO).

"I believe strongly that good health is rooted in equity, universality, solidarity and inclusiveness. 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," said Dr Etienne in her acceptance speech.

Dr Etienne holds degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of the West Indies as well as a Master's in community health and an honorary diploma in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

She held several senior positions in Dominica, including serving twice as Chief Medical Officer and Director of Primary Health Care Services. She was also an Associate Professor at the Ross University School of Medicine. In Geneva, Dr Etienne led efforts to renew primary health care (PHC) at the global level and to strengthen health systems based on PHC, promoting integration and improved functioning of health systems. She has also promoted policy directions to reduce health inequalities and advance health for all through universal coverage, people-centered care, the access to safe and effective medical products and technology, the integration of health into broader public policies, and inclusive and participatory health leadership. The Regional Office for the Americas comprises 38 member states stretching from the Arctic to the Tierra del Fuego and including all the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries. (CMC)