Luis Manzur

Argentine Health Minister Juan Luis Manzur

Juan Luis Manzur (born January 8, 1969) is an Argentine surgeon and politician, currently Minister of Health and Environment to the President.

Manzur was born in San Miguel de Tucumán to a Maronite Catholic father from Lebanon and an Argentine mother. He received a medical degree from the University of Tucumán and completed his residency at the public Álvarez Hospital, in Buenos Aires.[1] Manzur later received a master's degree in Health Systems and Services Administration from the University of Buenos Aires.

Following a stint as Vice Minister of Health for the Province of San Luis, in 2002 he was named Public Health Secretary of the District of La Matanza, a western, mainly blue-collar suburb of the Argentine capital. Recommended by the National Health Minister, Ginés González García, Manzur was appointed Health Minister of Tucumán Province by the new Governor, José Alperovich, in 2003. Manzur soon earned plaudits in his post, which oversaw public health in one of Argentina's least-developed provinces.[2] One widely-used yardstick of public health, the infant mortality rate, fell from 23 per 1,000 births (50% above the national average) in 2003 to 13, in 2006 (matching the national average).[3][4] These news helped Manzur secure Governor Alperovich's nod to be a running mate for his successful, 2007 bid for re-election.[5]

The reported accomplishment was clouded, however, by accusations published in June 2008 in the Buenos Aires daily Crítica de la Argentina, that the headline statistic had been manipulated by Manzur's office by allegedly counting neonatal mortality (the death of an infant under one month) as perinatal mortality (a late fetal death, or of an infant under one week old). It's worth noting that the World Health Organization classifies perinatal deaths within these parameters,[6] and that in any case, the published rate of perinatal deaths fell from 24 to 18 per 1,000 births in Tucumán.[3][7] Crítica reiterated its 2008 accusations in its June 30, 2009, news story on Manzur's pick, though the Minister-designee replaced his predecessor, Graciela Ocaña, as scheduled.[5]

Manzur, who was sworn in on July 1, will have an agenda topped by a potential declaration of a public health emergency and the special earmark of over US$260 million, both to facilitate government responses to the H1N1 virus ("swine flu"). Around 1,600 cases of the strain have been reported in Argentina as of July 1, 2009, including 44 fatalities. [8]


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