‘Baptism of fire’: Tested Caribbean trailblazer leads COVID response in the Americas

Dr. Carissa Etienne (Photo via Miami Herald)

“We make it a point of duty of also reminding the world, reminding our region, that there are issues in the Caribbean that need to be looked at but also there are lessons to be learned from the Caribbean as well.” – Dr. Carissa Etienne

(Miami Herald) She navigated the chikungunya and Zika fever epidemics across Latin America and the Caribbean, tackled a deadly yellow fever outbreak in Brazil, and mobilised a regional response against the threat of Ebola.

A medical doctor by training, Carissa Etienne’s leadership during public health outbreaksas head of the World Health Organization’s Americas office is rooted in years of handling crises, starting with the trailblazing reconstruction of her hurricane-battered Caribbean nation’s health care system more than four decades ago.

But it is COVID-19, the virus first recorded in multiple Latin America and Caribbean countries a year ago this month, that is testing her resolve as it ravages economies, overwhelms health systems and disproportionately affects countries in the Americas.

“It’s difficult to ever imagine a pandemic of this magnitude,” said Etienne, whose day begins before dawn with a morning prayer that is followed by a long succession of back-to-back meetings.

Read more at: Miami Herald

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