Dr. Rhonda Sealey-Thomas from Antigua and Barbuda has been inaugurated as the new Assistant Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Washington, DC, on 12 October, 2023. PAHO is a regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Dr. Sealey-Thomas is a highly qualified individual with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree, a Master of Public Health, and a Doctorate in Public Health from the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.
Dr. Sealey-Thomas has worked for the Ministry of Health in Antigua and Barbuda for over 25 years. She recently served as Chief Medical Officer from 2005-2023. Dr. Sealey-Thomas is now part of PAHO’s Executive Management team, along with PAHO Director Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, Deputy Director Ms Mary-Lou Valdez, and Director of Administration Mrs Kristan Beck.
Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, PAHO Director, said, “Dr. Sealey-Thomas knows, understands and shares the values and the mission of this great organization.
Indeed, the work of her whole life reflects these values of equity, excellence, solidarity, respect and integrity. The Organization is quite fortunate to have her at this crucial time.”
During the ceremony, Dr. Sealey-Thomas spoke about the primary health challenges facing the Region of the Americas over the next few years.
These challenges include non-communicable diseases, climate change, the ability to have resilient systems, and the urgent need to strengthen pandemic preparedness and response. Dr. Sealey-Thomas expressed her commitment to work with Dr. Barbosa to support his vision for the future of PAHO and for the Region of the Americas.
Minister of Health, Wellness & the Environment of Antigua and Barbuda, Honorable. Sir Molwyn Joseph, welcomed Dr. Sealey-Thomas’ appointment, saying, “We have deep knowledge of her capacity to perform successfully and every confidence in her ability to strengthen the PAHO team.”
Dr. Sealey-Thomas oversees the departments of Communicable Diseases, Prevention, Control and Elimination; Social and Environmental Determinants for Health Equity; Evidence and Intelligence for Action in Health; Health Systems and Services; Innovation, Access to Medicines and Health Technologies; and Non-communicable Diseases Prevention and Mental Health.
Additionally, the Special Programs on Comprehensive Immunization and the Regional Revolving Funds, and three PAHO/WHO technical centers: the Pan American Center for Foot-and-Mouth Disease and Veterinary Public Health (PANAFTOSA); the Latin American Center for Perinatology, Women and Reproductive Health (CLAP); and the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (BIREME) are under Dr. Sealey-Thomas’ responsibility.
Dr. Sealey-Thomas started her career as a Medical Officer for the Ministry of Health in Antigua and Barbuda in 1994.
She then served as the country’s Chief Medical Officer from 2005-2023, where she acted as the primary advisor on the most pertinent health issues.
Dr. Sealey-Thomas began her collaboration with PAHO in 2004 as Associate Consultant in the Non-communicable Diseases Unit.
She helped shape the Organization’s approach to regional challenges such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
She was a member of PAHO’s working group in charge of crafting a Health Agenda for the Americas during 2005-2006, a member of the Organization’s advisory group on the Noncommunicable Disease Agenda in the Caribbean, and was also Chair of the Regional Validation Committee for the Elimination of the Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and Congenital Syphilis.