The position of Managing Director of Health programs at the Rockefeller Foundation has been vacant for over half a year since Ariel Pablos-Mendez left the Foundation to become the Assistant Administrator of Global Health at USAID last summer. The Director is responsible for overseeing the Transforming Health Systems Initiative among other programs. The THSI initiative is in my view one of the few initiatives among the big global health Foundations that has dared to think outside the box in terms of how to build and strengthen health systems globally. For better or for worse, we have them to thank for the buzz word “Universal Health Coverage”.
Over the weekend I learned that that the Foundation has found Ariel’s replacement. Jeannette Vega, a Chilean medical doctor and a Ph.D. in Epidemiology, will be joining the Foundation in a few months to head the health programs. I don’t know much about her, other than what I learned from reading her bio from Judith Rodin, which is impressive, but look forward to the opportunity to meet with her. I spent a month in Chile a few years back studying its health system and its health system reform process, so that credential alone means a lot to me. To read more about Jeanettte, please see below.
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Jeanette brings to the Foundation in-depth experience in public health. She started her renowned career as a medical doctor in Chile where she specialized in Family Medicine. Jeanette then went on to earn a master’s degree in Public Health from the Universidad de Chile and a Ph.D. in Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago. After practicing family medicine, Jeanette became a national consultant for Epidemiology and Chronic Diseases with the Pan American Health organization. In 2000 – 2003 Jeanette served as Director of the National Institute of Public Health in Chile and was a member of Chile’s National Health Reform Committee. Jeanette then took her expertise in health reform to the World Health Organization in Geneva, where she was a Director leading the equity in health agenda, looking at the social determinants of health and health systems. With her team at WHO she set up several ‘knowledge networks’ that focused on, among other themes, work conditions, health systems, and health and gender, running demonstrations in a number of countries. In 2008 Jeanette left WHO at the invitation of the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, to join her in leading Chile’s 13-step agenda for equity in health. As Vice Minister of Health, Jeanette transformed Chile’s health system from a vertical structure to an insectoral approach.