Brazilian epidemiologist Jarbas Barbosa was elected this Wednesday (28) as the new director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Until now the organization’s deputy director, he obtained 21 of the 37 votes cast in the fourth round of a process carried out during the 30 th Pan American Sanitary Conference, which takes place in Washington, where PAHO is headquartered.
Barbosa will succeed the Dominican Carissa Etienne, whose term ends at the beginning of
and who last Monday said goodbye to the organization he had led for the last ten years.
The vote count had to be repeated several times due to doubts about the transparency of the process expressed by some of member countries, such as Mexico and Chile, and finally it was necessary to reach a fourth round due to the lack of consensus on the candidates.
Former director of the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), Barbosa was one of the creators of the Ma is Doctors, implemented in Brazil during the governments of Dilma Rousseff. A lawsuit in the United States Courts investigates an alleged scheme of work analogous to slavery in the sending of Cuban doctors to work in other countries, in which the Castro dictatorship kept most of the money from the payments.
In April, the epidemiologist was nominated as Brazil’s candidate for the election in PAHO by the Minister of Health, Marcelo Queiroga.
Among Barbosa’s main challenges, will be advising the governments of the region during the recovery of a pandemic that still leaves thousands of deaths on the continent every week.
The numbers are far below, however, those recorded by the region during the most dramatic peaks of the health emergency due to Covid-19.
The new PAHO director will also have to face the stagnation of vaccination rates for other diseases, a situation that has led to the detection of cases of polio in New York and measles in Brazil, diseases that were considered outdated.
A PAHO is the American arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), in charge of advising the governments and health institutions of its 35 Member States and four associated countries.