Featured Doctor

BARKLEY, Dr Shannon

WHO Technical Officer and family doctor

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you about my recent appointment as the World Health Organization Technical Officer for Primary Health Care Services and Family Medicine.

Tell us about your career so far?

Throughout my career I have been involved with the development of effective primary health care among underserved communities globally through service provision, health workforce education, policy, and monitoring and evaluation. I completed my medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine where I co-founded the Guatemala Health Initiative, a multidisciplinary, longitudinal partnership between the University of Pennsylvania and Hospitalito Atitlan in Santiago, Guatemala. I then completed a Masters of Public Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with an emphasis in International Health and Primary Care.

Recognizing the need for quality comprehensive services for patients and families, and the role of primary health care in promoting equity, I pursued specialization in Family Medicine with a focus on uninsured populations in the United States. This was followed by additional specialization in Advanced Hospital Medicine at Swedish Medical Center, Seattle, USA. As a family medicine physician, I have provided clinical care and education to underserved and refugee communities in the United States, Guatemala, Botswana, and Kenya.

In addition, I had the privilege to serve as an assistant professor of Family and Community Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, providing full-spectrum primary care services and serving as a member of the core faculty for post-graduate family medicine resident education, including lectures, clinical teaching, and curriculum development. I worked as a consultant on Primary Health Care to the World Health Organization for two years prior to taking on this role as Technical Officer.

What is this new role and what it is all about?

In my new position as WHO Technical Officer, I will provide support to WHO Member States in developing people-centred, family-oriented and community-based primary care services that are well integrated with the rest of the health care delivery system and social services within the context of health systems strengthening and in response to regional and national needs and priorities. Additionally, I will have the privilege of collaborating with national and international organizations for increasing access to quality primary care services worldwide and advocating for this area of work.

What are your hopes in this role?

I hope to work with like-minded colleagues and organizations globally to place due emphasis on the role of primary health care globally, to encourage adequate investment in primary health care, to increase knowledge of how to improve primary health care performance, and to promote models of integrated health services based on strong primary care.

Interests inside and outside medicine?

My interests include providing high quality health care to those who need it most; better understanding domains of high quality, effective primary care: integrated health services, person-centered care, provider performance, and safety in primary care and how we improve these globally. Outside of medicine, I enjoy spending time with family and friends - hiking, biking, running and exploring the world.