Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, a national of Brazil, was elected Director of the Pan American Health Organization by Member States during the 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference on 28 September 2022. Dr. Barbosa begins his five-year term on 1 February 2023, succeeding Dr. Carissa F. Etienne of Dominica, who led PAHO from 2012 to January of 2023.
From July 2017 until his appointment as Director, he served as PAHO Assistant Director, leading five technical departments and PAHO’s Revolving Fund – a special program to increase equitable access to vaccines in the region. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Barbosa led the Organization’s efforts to support Member States in reducing the impact of the emergency on priority public health programs. He also led the PAHO Task Force for COVID-19 Vaccination in the Americas and launched a platform to expand production of mRNA vaccines in Latin America and the Caribbean to reduce the region’s dependency on imports during future health emergencies.
Dr. Barbosa obtained his medical degree from the Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil. He specialized in public health and epidemiology at the National School of Public Health, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation-FIOCRUZ in Rio de Janeiro, and holds a master’s degree in medical sciences and a PhD in public health from the University of Campinas-UNICAMP in São Paulo, Brazil. He began his professional career in 1982, working for the State Department of Health in Pernambuco, where he was later appointed Program Coordinator for Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV/AIDS. From 1997 to 2003, Dr. Barbosa served as Director of the National Center for Epidemiology (CENEPI) in Brasilia, Brazil, within the Ministry of Health. In 2003, he was appointed Secretary for Health Surveillance and in 2006, became Deputy Minister.
Dr. Barbosa 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 noncommunicable diseases; veterinary public health; and health analysis and statistics. He served in this capacity until his return to Brazil in April 2010.
In 2011, Dr. Barbosa was appointed for the second time as Secretary for Health Surveillance and in 2015 he served as Secretary of Science, Technology and Strategic Supplies for the Brazilian Ministry of Health. From July 2015 until 19 July 2018, Dr. Barbosa served as the Director-President of the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (ANVISA), where he modernized the regulation of medicines and health products and strengthened cooperation and integration with other regional and global regulatory mechanisms. Under his management, ANVISA became the first agency in Latin America to join the International Council for Harmonization of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH).
Dr. Barbosa participated as a member of the Brazilian delegation in both PAHO and WHO Governing Bodies meetings and was President of PAHO’s Executive Committee in 2013-2014 and Vice-Chair of WHO`s Executive Board in 2014-2015. Dr. Barbosa was also a senior member of several international committees and working groups, such as the United Nations Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (IACG UN) and the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework Advisory Group (PIP Framework AD), where he served as a member and chair in 2016.
Dr. Barbosa has published numerous articles on global health, health systems management, disease surveillance, and on the prevention and response to outbreaks and epidemics. He has spoken in over 250 lectures, conferences and seminars and was a key PAHO spokesperson during the COVID-19 pandemic.