Public Health professor named a leader of the Pan American Health Organization

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School of Public Health and Health Services professor Jon Andrus was appointed deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization last month.

The position gives Andrus a leading role in the World Health Organization’s Regional Office of the Americas, as well as a chance to “serve the underserved,” a task that he said is a priority.

Andrus has served at PAHO previously, working as an adviser in the Comprehensive Family Immunization Project, where he supervised the development and dispersion of new vaccines.

As deputy director, he said he would remain dedicated to the goal of improving access to health care throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America.

“This [appointment] is an opportunity to bring my experience to promote public health intervention strategies that will help people on a global level,” he said.

Andrus said the responsibilities of his new position include helping PAHO Director Mirta Roses Pertago, increasing immunizations, confronting the spread of non-communicable diseases and helping PAHO-associated countries achieve the U.N.’s Millennium Development goals, which aim to eradicate poverty by 2015.

Students in SPHHS will benefit from Andrus’ role as deputy director of PAHO, SPHHS Interim Dean Josef Reum said.

“Happily, we already have a strong and positive partnership with the Pan American Health Organization,” Reum said. “Many of our alumni are employed there, we have had as many as four faculty who were full time employees of PAHO teaching focused offerings in SPHHS. [Andrus]’s new role will certainly help to solidify the partnership and to advance us into new opportunities.”

Andrus has been discussing informal plans for students to gain work experience with the Ministry of Health in the Bahamas.

It is “one country in the Caribbean that would be very receptive to having [SPHHS] students intern in island communities with a lack of resources and health services,” he said. “Students would go into communities to do health care assessments that would be useful to the ministry of health,” which would improve the government’s understanding of public health needs.

Even with his new position, Andrus hopes to continue to teach in the SPHHS, where he and Reum are professors of health policy.

“My role is to introduce the global perspective to the policy issues being discussed in that class,” he said, also claiming that he enjoys learning from his students, who bring diverse perspectives to course.

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