Saint Lucia’s first female Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Doctor Merlene Fredericks-James, is retiring after ten years in the post.
Her last day in the public service will be December 31, 2019.
Fredericks-James served as CMO during a period when the local health sector went through a number of challenges.
Among them were constraints in relation to equitable access to health care for all, facing epidemics of new and re-emerging diseases like Chikungunya and Zika, as well as Chronic Non-Communicable diseases which remain the main causes of mortality in this country.
In addition, the sector responded to various outbreaks including a Pertussis outbreak, and developed plans and policies to strengthen outbreak response.
Other initiatives undertaken included the introduction of new vaccines, vaccine surveys and campaigns to improve coverage, vector control, oral health surveys and campaigns, eye health, nutrition, risk communication and updating of legislation and policies.
Doctor Merlene Fredericks-James is a graduate of the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, and a medical practitioner with 22 years experience.
After years in clinical practice, she entered the field of Public Health and obtained a Master of Public Health degree from the University of South Florida. She also has a Postgraduate Certificate in Field Epidemiology, from the University of North Carolina.
Born in the USVI, she came here with her parents at the age of five.
The outgoing CMO worked as a medical doctor in Jamaica, Barbados and here in Saint Lucia.
She departs at a time when the health sector is poised for further major change with the completion and commissioning of the two main secondary care hospitals and the imminent implementation of Universal Health Care and National Health Insurance.