Statement by Sir Ronald Sanders, President of the Permanent Council of the OAS and Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda

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The passing of Dr. Carissa Etienne is an occasion for deep sadness.

If ever there was a person to whom every person in the Caribbean owed  an enduring debt of gratitude, it was her.   As Director of PAHO, she steered all of the countries of the Western Hemisphere through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.    She worked tirelessly to secure vaccines for all Caribbean nations, and she toiled relentlessly to ensure the region got necessary medical facilities.

In June 2021, I wrote of her that “The Caribbean and Latin America owe much to the dedication and resourcefulness of PAHO – and particularly to the black, Caribbean woman at the centre of its operations – Dr  Carissa F. Etienne.”

Her passing is a sad loss to everyone in the Caribbean.  She represented everything that is good about us.  We should all mourn her: we have lost a caring and strong champion who always answered a call for help and who advanced the region’s health diligently and forcefully.

She was a respected leader who reached the height of command in the Pan-American Health Organisation, overcoming many obstacles as a woman and a black woman.   In many ways she was phenomenal.

We must be thankful for her life and her care.

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