As a Public Health Physician for ESR, Dr Jill Sherwood focuses on the surveillance and response to communicable diseases, such as measles, hepatitis, and enteric disease outbreaks. She also serves as a vital conduit between ESR’s Health Intelligence Team and health professionals and organisations around the country.
Jill brings a wealth of public health experience and knowledge to her role. She started her career working as a GP in rural Canada, but realised quite early on that she wanted to concentrate on disease prevention.
“I was keen to work in developing countries to support disease prevention and health initiatives,” she says.
Over the next several years, her work took her around the world and ranged from running a women’s health clinic, to working in a public health unit in rural Canada, to working at a medical centre in Malawi.
She returned to university and earned a Master’s in Public Health and Tropical Medicine from James Cook University, Northern Queensland and then completed her Fellowship in Public Health Medicine in New Zealand.
In 2008, she became a Medical Officer of Health for the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board.
“Medical Officers of Health have responsibilities that range from ensuring drinking water supplies are safe, to planning for pandemics, to monitoring noise and air pollution,” she says.
“In fact, one of the things I bring to the ESR team is my experience as a Medical Officer of Health and identifying ways that we can provide meaningful support to those roles both locally and nationally.”
Jill says New Zealand is a world leader in our communicable disease surveillance work.
“We are able to provide good quality information through a near real-time web-based system, but we are always looking at ways we can improve and refine our systems. One of our goals is to look at ways to make that information even more accessible to the Ministry of Health, public health units and others around the country who need it.”