Bridgetown, Barbados, 28 November 2022 (PAHO/WHO) – Barbados’ highest award was presented to the Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr Carissa Etienne, for her leadership and friendship to Barbados during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The prestigious Honourary Freedom of Barbados Award is given for extraordinary service to Barbados, the Caribbean Diaspora or to humanity at large. The Award was presented to Dr. Etienne by the President of Barbados, Her Excellency the Most Honourable Dame Sandra Mason.
The PAHO Director expressed appreciation for the honor, noting she was grateful for the opportunity to have served the Government and People of Barbados.
“I describe myself as a servant leader, and at PAHO I have been blessed with a staff whose dedication and commitment are second to no other. I humbly receive this award with them in mind and reiterate my sincere gratitude to the national authority,” Dr. Etienne said.
The Honourary Freedom of Barbados Award is the highest honor bestowed during the country’s Humanitarian Awards, which this year were given to over 6,000 Barbadians for their efforts to ensure the health and well-being of the population at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recipients included frontline workers from the public and private sectors, the media and charitable organizations.
Looking back on the unprecedented burden the pandemic brought to countries, especially Small Islands Developing States, Dr. Etienne congratulated frontline workers and support staff across sectors being honored by the Government. “You have served admirably in one of the worst periods in the history of public health,” the PAHO Director said. “We celebrate you today, we celebrate your resolve, your commitment to serve others and your sheer determination to get the job done no matter what.”
Dr. Etienne recalled that frontline workers were also victims of COVID-19, and many faced fear, anxiety, depression, burn out, mental ill health, as well as the death of loved ones, friends and family. “Yet you woke up each day, dressed and presented yourself to serve others. In the service of humanity, and commitment to your fellowman,” Dr. Etienne said.
The Prime Minister of Barbados, the Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, thanked all award recipients for their service during the COVID-19 pandemic. “If ever there was a time for us to appreciate your value,” the Prime Minister said, “it has been through this awful period.” She added that it is “only through challenging and testing times that we fully appreciate what we are capable of.”
Dr. Etienne commended Prime Minister Motley’s leadership during the pandemic: “You repeatedly sought the advice of our experts and acted boldly while respecting the science and international norms and standards.”
The PAHO Director said that resolve and solidarity will continue to be crucial as countries recover from COVID-19 and prepare for future emergencies. “Only when we work together can we guarantee justice, prosperity, peace and equity for all our peoples,” the PAHO Director said.
The Humanitarian Awards is an initiative of the government to recognize those who work tirelessly on the frontlines and in support roles during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure the safety and well-being of Barbadian residents and visitors.