Alba Maria Ropero Alvarez is a Regional Advisor on Immunization in the Family, Gender, and Life Course Department at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization. A public health professional with more than 20 years of international experience, she was previously Chief of the Infectious Disease Program and Assistant Director of Communicable Diseases at the Ministry of Health in Colombia.
Alba Maria’s areas of expertise include the development and implementation of regional and worldwide Immunization Program policies and strategies, emergency outbreak response, monitoring and evaluation, and research projects. Her work also focuses on surveillance and vaccination strategies for the control, elimination, and eradication of vaccine-preventable diseases such as Influenza, Yellow Fever, and Hepatitis. During the influenza pandemic 2009, a multi-country vaccination campaign in Latin America, resulted in more than 145 million people vaccinated against pandemic Influenza A H1N1, being the region with the highest uptake.
Her support has been critical in order to establish a network for influenza vaccine evaluations known as REVELAC-i for its acronym in Spanish (Red para la Evaluación de Vacunas En Latino América y el Caribe–influenza) which was launched in 2013.
As a Regional Advisor on Immunization in the Americas, Alba Maria is also leading efforts on Maternal Immunization, in close collaboration with different Institutions, including WHO, CDC, Emory University, Yale University and representatives of Ministries of Health, among others. This platform is driven by the high uptake of Influenza vaccines in pregnant women in the Americas, followed by Tdap. Regional guidelines for national immunization program managers and policy makers for introducing maternal and neonatal vaccines have been developed.
Alba Maria has also been the technical leader of the yearly Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA) campaign – which has brought the benefits of vaccination to more than 800 million people in the Western Hemisphere – since it began in 2003. Following 10 years of progress in PAHO, and sharing experiences with other WHO Regions, VWA has moved from an initiative between a few countries to a global health initiative, becoming a World Immunization Week, through a World Health Assembly Resolution in 2012.