Julio Frenk

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Julio Frenk Mora

Dr. Julio José Frenk Mora (born December 20, 1953, Mexico City) is a Mexican physician and former Secretary of Health of Mexico. On January 1, 2009, Dr. Frenk became Dean of the Faculty and T & G Angelopoulos Professor of Public Health and International Development at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Early life and education[edit]

Julio Frenk was born in Mexico City on December 20, 1953. He received his medical degree in 1979 from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and went on to obtain three additional advanced degrees—a Master of Public Health (1981), a Master of Arts in Sociology (1982), and a joint Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Care Organization and in Sociology (1983)—from the University of Michigan.


His professional career began in 1984, when Dr. Frenk assumed the position of Founding Director of the Centre of Public Health Research, Ministry of Health of Mexico, a role he held until 1987. Following that appointment, Dr. Frenk went on to serve as the founding Director-General of the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico (1987 to 1992). From 1995 to 1998 he served as the Executive Vice President of the Mexican Health Foundation, a private non-profit organization, and the Director of its Centre for Health and the Economy. In 1998 he was designated Executive Director of Evidence and Information for Policy at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva.

Following the election of Vicente Fox in Mexico's 2000 presidential election, Dr. Frenk was appointed Minister of Health of Mexico, a position he held until December 2006.

Following his service as Minister of Health, Dr. Frenk was tapped to serve as Senior Fellow in the Global Health Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where he counseled the foundation on global health issues and strategies.

In addition to his many executive positions, Dr. Frenk has served in several academic roles including, senior researcher at the National Institute of Public Health and adjunct professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the National University of Mexico. He was also awarded the position of National Researcher. In 1992–1993 he was Visiting Professor at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies.

He is the author of 28 books and monographs and many articles in academic journals as well as in cultural magazines and newspapers. He is also the member of the Editorial Boards of ten international journals and a member of twelve scientific and professional associations, including the National Academy of Medicine of Mexico and the United States Institute of Medicine.

In 2003, while serving as Minister of Health of Mexico, Frenk introduced Seguro Popular, a program of comprehensive national health insurance which expanded access to health care for tens of millions of previously uninsured Mexicans [1].

In 2004, Frenk was criticized by tobacco control advocates for cutting an unusual deal with tobacco companies. Philip Morris and British America Tobacco agreed to donate $400 million for health programs in Mexico over 2½ years but reserved the right to cancel the donation if cigarette taxes were raised [2].

In September 2006, the Mexican government put Frenk's name forward as a candidate for the vacant position of Director-General of the World Health Organization [3]. The British medical journal The Lancet published an editorial [4] endorsing Frenk as the best candidate, while The Wall Street Journal reported that the controversial tobacco deal could hurt his chances for election [5]. The WHO position was awarded to Dr. Margaret Chan in November 2006.

After failing to win the WHO post, Dr. Frenk assumed the position of head of the Carso Health Institute, a private, nonprofit center aimed at helping Latin America's poor. The organization was established by Mexican businessman Carlos Slim. Mr. Slim is a controlling shareholder in the Mexican unit of the tobacco company Altria Group (formerly Philip Morris) and sits on Altria's board of directors. As of March 2007. Mr. Slim's business holdings range from the Mexican phone company Telmex, to Inbursa financial group and Grupo Carso, which owns businesses ranging from retail stores to restaurants.

In July 2010, Dr. Frenk joined the board of the Commonwealth Fund.[1]

The "morning-after" pill[edit]

Julio Frenk before the Mexican Senate (right)

On July 2005, Frenk met the opposition of Interior Secretary Carlos Abascal (a conservative Catholic) because of the decision of the Ministry of Health of distributing the morning after pill to government health clinics.

Shortly after Norberto Rivera Carrera (archbishop of Mexico City) declared that the introduction of the pill should not be made without public debate, Abascal announced debates on the decision would be made. However, Frenk has denied the existence of any plans in discussing the topic or withdrawing the distribution of the pills. Women's rights groups have applauded the decision while anti-abortion activists and the Catholic Church have strongly decried the pill that is traditionally abortive.



  1. ^ The Commonwealth Fund (2010). "Dr. Julio Frenk to Join Commonwealth Fund Board of Directors" (http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Content/News/News-Releases/2010/Jul/Dr-Julio-Frenk.aspx). Commonwealthfund.org

External links[edit]

Preceded by
José Antonio González Fernández
Secretary of Health
2000 — 2006
Succeeded by
José Ángel Córdova Villalobos