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PAHO Inducts American, Costa Rican into Top Leadership Posts

New deputy and assistant directors are sworn in on PAHO's 107th anniversary


From left to right: PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses, Dr. Jon Kim Andrus and Dr. Socorro Gross-Galiano. Photos by Sonia Mey-Schmidt (PAHO/WHO)
Washington, D.C., 2 December 2009 — The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) today marked its 107th anniversary by formally swearing in two of the Organization's top three leaders.

Dr. Jon Kim Andrus, a U.S. citizen, and Dr. Socorro Gross-Galiano, of Costa Rica, were officially installed as Deputy Director and Assistant Director, respectively.

PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses administered the oath of office to both, describing them as "very worthy and accomplished public health servants."

"I consider myself most fortunate-I am really very happy-to share the helm with these very special colleagues," she said.

Dr. Andrus is an internationally renowned expert on immunization and primary health care who earlier headed PAHO's immunization program. Dr. Gross held top positions in Costa Rica's public health system prior to joining PAHO.

In welcoming the two leaders to their posts, Dr. Roses and a panel of top U.S. public health leaders also recalled the major contributions PAHO has made to international health since its founding 107 years ago. Established on Dec. 2, 1902, PAHO is the world's oldest international public health agency. Under PAHO's leadership, the Americas became the first region to eradicate smallpox and polio, and today PAHO serves as the leading forum for discussions and joint action in public health for the countries of North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean.

Dr. Regina Benjamin, U.S. Surgeon General, was among the panelists who pledged support for Drs. Andrus and Gross and for PAHO.

"These two visionary leaders will undoubtedly advance PAHO's mission to improve the health and well-being of all the people of the Americas. I look forward to working with Drs. Andrus and Gross as well as the entire PAHO organization in the future."

Also expressing support were Dr. Wanda Jones, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Heath (US HHS), and Dr. D.A. Henderson and Dr. Carl Taylor, Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus, respectively, of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Andrus said, "We are particularly excited about the potential opportunities with the United States Government under President Obama's Global Health Initiative to work on addressing the major health concerns of our continent. We greatly appreciate the recognition of the added value of multilateral collaboration."

Prior to his appointment as Deputy Director, Dr. Andrus was Lead Technical Advisor of PAHO's Immunization Unit. Earlier in his career, he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, trained at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and became the World Health Organization's South-East Asia Regional Coordinator for polio eradication and Chief of Vaccines and Biologicals for South-East Asia. He has published numerous scientific articles and is the recipient of a number of awards, including the U.S. Public Health Service's highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal. He is also a Professor and Director of the Global Health MPH Program at the George Washington University.

Dr. Socorro Gross-Galiano oversees PAHO's core programs for providing techncial cooperation to its Member States. Before joining PAHO, she practiced and taught medicine in Costa Rica and served as Chief of the Health Services Research Section and the Adult Health Section of the Costa Rican Social Security Institute (CCSS). She joined PAHO's Country Office in Colombia in 1994 after working at the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP). She has also served as PAHO/WHO Representative in the Dominican Republic and in Nicaragua. She currently oversees PAHO's programs in Family and Community Health; Health Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control; Sustainable Development and Environmental Health; Technology, Health Care and Research; Health Systems and Services; and Gender, Ethnicity and Health.

PAHO works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of the people of the Americas. It serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).

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