Dr Deanna Ashley, Trailblazer in Public Health and Violence Prevention
International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8 under the theme ‘Accelerating Equality & Empowerment’.
This year we celebrate the work of Dr Deanna Ashley, Executive Director of the VPA.
For the past 19 years, Dr Ashley has led the VPA and with a small dedicated team and spearheaded several intervention programmes aimed at encouraging individuals to resolving conflicts peaceful.
Some of these VPA interventions include: CAMP Cornwall, a child centred initiative at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, which is aimed at identifying children and youth with violence related injuries and seeking interventions for them that will support their emotional and mental wellbeing; the Child Resiliency Programme, which is geared to rescue ‘at risk’ children exposed to violence or who have behavioural problems .
Dr Ashley is a retired director of Health Promotion and Protection Division at the Ministry of Health which she served with distinction from 1970-2006. She is a paediatrician and public health specialist and has worked as paediatric clinician, a parish medical officer of health, senior medical officer for maternal and child health and primary care, and principal medical officer for secondary and tertiary care.
Her outstanding service in health was recognised with two national honours—the Order of Distinction (OD) 1983, for her work in the 1982 polio epidemic and the Commander of Distinction (CD) in 2005 for her contribution to the health services.
She was recognised by the Women’s Leadership Initiative in 2012 as one of three women to make a significant contribution in shifting the paradigm and cultivating a systems approach to public health and violence prevention.
We asked her: “HOW HAVE YOU BEEN USING YOUR OWN SPHERE OF INFLUENCE, aND ARE RISING TO THE CHALLENGE TO CREATE A SPACE FOR YOUR VOICE, AS WELL ATHAT OF OTHER WOMEN AND GIRLS, TO BE HEARD?”
Response: As someone who believes in the importance of the development of children and youth, I invest my time to support many young persons through my work at my alma mater, St Andrew High School for Girls. As a director and former chairperson of the St Andrew High School Foundation, I have provided expertise to support the development of the students and the school’s facilities to ensure the provision of excellent education opportunities. Although I have no children of my own, through my interest in children and young persons I have many ‘adopted children’ who I have nurtured and guided into well-adjusted adults, who are now giving back to help other children and youths to grow into responsible and productive adults.