The life of Dr. María Isabel Rodríguez, El Salvador (1922) has been marked by her commitment to education and science. A tireless fighter for the right to health, equity, women's rights, and justice have left their mark on her existence, making her a Public Health Heroine of the Americas, the highest distinction awarded by the Pan American Organization of the Health / World Health Organization (PAHO / WHO). Dr. Rodríguez received this recognition Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, PAHO’s Director during a special ceremony on September 28, 2015, at PAHO headquarters in Washington DC.
In 1948, Dr. Rodríguez received her degree in medicine from the University of El Salvador (UES), being one of the few women in El Salvador to graduate from that degree at that time. Later, she completed two postgraduate degrees in cardiology and physiological sciences at the Institute of Cardiology of Mexico.
Between 1999 and 2007, Dr. Rodriguez served as rector of the University of El Salvador, becoming the first woman to hold this position in university history. In the following university elections, she was reelected for a second term.
She worked as a consultant for the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization, supporting the development of human resources in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, and other Latin American countries and was the architect in the creation of the Training Program in Health of PAHO.
Dr. Rodriguez has received important international and national recognitions for her professional work and has published more than a hundred articles in Spanish and English on science and education.
Between 2009 and 2014, Maria Isabel Rodríguez was appointed Minister of Health of El Salvador, becoming the first woman to hold that position in her country. At the end of her term, she has served as presidential advisor on health and education, from where she performed a set of functions in favor of achieving universal health coverage and quality education, with inclusion and equity in El Salvador.
Dr. Rodríguez is considered a pioneer in the field of research and teaching in cardiovascular physiology. Throughout her professional life she has been a promoter of profound reforms in medical education. He has led the sector transformation of his country towards a universal, fair, and high-quality integrated health system, with a rights-based approach and based on the primary health care strategy.
Dr. Rodriguez resides in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Link of interest: