Dr Rita Columbia (pictured), an American national, assumed her responsibilities as UNFPA Representative to Iraq on 1 July 2020. Previously, she served as UNFPA Representative to Moldova and Country Director for Albania.
Dr Columbia has more than 20 years of experience in the area of public health, sexual and reproductive health as well as programme management and advocacy. She worked in governmental institutions, non-governmental sector and UNFPA.
In 1997, she headed the first country programme of Pathfinder International in Kazakhstan, and a few years later she joined UNFPA country office in Kazakhstan leading a programme on sexual and reproductive health.
She managed regional and global programmes while working in the International Planned Parenthood Federation, European Network and International Youth Foundation.
In 2009, Dr Columbia returned to UNFPA as Regional Programme Advisor on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and later joined UNFPA Technical Division in New York.
Prior to joining UNFPA in Iraq, she was part of UNFPA Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia’s Senior Management team.
She holds a medical degree specialized in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a Master’s degree in Health Management.
Dr Columbia takes over from Dr Oluremi Sogunro, who serves as UNFPA Representative to Iraq from 1 October 2018 until 30 June 2020.