Dr Carissa F. Etienne assumed her role as Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Services in February 2008. Prior to that, she was the Assistant Director of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau, which is the Secretariat of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and of the American Regional Office of WHO. As Assistant Director in PAHO since July 2003, she directed five technical areas - health systems and services; technology and health services delivery; health surveillance and disease management; family and community health; and sustainable development and environmental health.
A national of Dominica, 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. Throughout her career, she has gained extensive knowledge and experience in various aspects of health management, health systems and health-care delivery, including management of essential drugs, human resource management for primary health care and the integration of health programmes and systems.
Dr Etienne 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. She received her MBBS degree from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica and her M.Sc. degree in community health in developing countries from the University of London.
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 research on health services in Dominica.