Spotlight: Alumni Association Award: Dr. Etienne Poirot ’79

A Chance to Develop Their Full Potential

Etienne Poirot ’79 has devoted his life to improving children’s healthcare

Jeff Selesnick

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Recipients of the St. Paul’s School Alumni Association Award are those who “have improved the quality of life in a community on a local, national, or global level.” Since he began his career in medicine, 2019 recipient Etienne Poirot ’79 has not only improved the quality of life in a community, he has worked to save lives in developing countries around the globe.

“It is a great honor,” says Poirot of the Alumni Association Award, “yet, the achievements made are the result of teamwork. Consequently, this is to be considered a shared award with colleagues, family, and friends.”

A Weicker Scholar who came to St. Paul’s School from France, Poirot went on to earn his degree in medicine from Université d’Amiens. In 1995, joined a group of fellow French doctors in Cambodia, signing on with Doctors Without Borders and working in Kompong Thom, one of the poorest provinces in the country. During his time with the organization, Poirot worked to extend healthcare support to more remote areas of the region, establishing health centers and district hospitals to help battle the Dengue (Haemorrhagic Fever) epidemic. Emergency and pediatric facilities were a particular area of focus, as “many patients were children who would come to the hospital as a last resort, when traditional medicine had failed.”

Following his mission in Kompong Thom, Poirot accepted a position as provincial health advisor with UNICEF in the province of Battambang. He was able to improve coordination efforts between the nearly 20 health service providers in the area and led efforts to expand equipment provisions and training options. A fast-spreading HIV/AIDS epidemic brought Poirot to the capital of Phnom Penh, where he worked with national counterparts in several foreign ministries to combat the disease. His various roles and initiatives in Cambodia, Madagascar, and China have helped Poirot give context to his work, operating on both sides of the rural/urban and grassroots/national policy divides.

“I am honored with the professional career I have been able to follow,” he says. “It has been challenging at times, but always rewarding.” Poirot currently serves as the chief of health and nutrition for UNICEF and remains grateful for his opportunities.

“I am lucky to have been able to combine this career with an adventurous family,” he says. “Several interventions that I have had the honor to be involved in have shown a significant impact on child health and to contributing to the realization of an environment in which children can develop to their full potential.”

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