Brazilian elected as new PAHO director
PAHO's Assistant Director, Dr Jarbas Barbosa da Silva Jr

WASHINGTON (CMC) – Brazilian, Dr Jarbas Barbosa Da Silva Jr, has been elected as the new director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), succeeding Dominican Dr Carissa Etienne, who demits office in February next year after serving two five-year terms.

The Brazilian was among five people vying for the post, including Dr Florence Duperval Guillaume, who had been nominated by Haiti. The other candidates came from Panama, Mexico and Uruguay.

Dr Barbosa da Silva Jr is currently the Assistant Director at PAHO, where he has led the Organization’s efforts to increase equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and to enhance regional capacities to produce medicines and other health technologies.

He joined PAHO in 2007 as Area Manager for Health Surveillance and Disease Management, responsible for coordinating regional activities related to the surveillance, prevention, and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases; veterinary public health; and health analysis and statistics.

His election formed part of the highlight of the ongoing 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference, where a resolution was adopted by delegates appointing Dr Etienne as Director Emeritus “for her service to the Pan American Health Organisation and the World Health Organisation” as of the date of her retirement.

WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, thanked Dr Etienne for her “outstanding leadership over the past 10 years,” informing the incoming director that he has “big shoes to fill”.

He said that Dr Da Silva Jr had gained the confidence of member states of the Americas in a keenly contested election.

“This is a great privilege and a very great responsibility and all the support comes with serious expectation from you. The health of the region’s one billion people is in your hands,” he said, adding that the region is extremely diverse with a huge range of cultures, languages, and income levels.

“From the Arctic to the Antarctic, from the North Pacific to the South Atlantic, from mega cities to urban slums…you will be faced with a huge range of health challenges….you will assume this position at a critical time as we seek to end the pandemic,” The WHO Director General said.

In her remarks, Dr Etienne said Dr Da Silva Jr now has the privilege to lead “the oldest, most prestigious public health organisation in the world” and that he will work closely with member states to meet the needs of the “last person of this region”.

She thanked the delegates “for bestowing upon me from the first of February (next year) the title of Director Emeritus,” saying “I will bear it very proudly and I will continue to identify with this organisation.

“I will keep a far distance from the management…but I will be proud to advocate on behalf of this organisation as we move forward,” she said.

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