Kansas State University alumna Svetlana Cotelea was recently appointed as deputy minister for the ministry of health and chief medical officer of the Republic of Moldova. Cotelea received her master of public health degree with an emphasis in public health nutrition from Kansas State University in 2011.
“Completing the master of public health degree from K-State was a turning point in my career and a decisive step in moving towards my present position,” Cotelea said.
In her new position, Cotelea oversees the Moldovan public health sector, prioritizes policies and interventions related to disease control and directs efforts to address public health risk factors such as tobacco, alcohol consumption, unhealthy nutrition and physical inactivity.
“Many things that I saw for the first time in the U.S. are going to be implemented in my country,” Cotelea said. “My experience in the MPH program at K-State gives me confidence to act in this direction.”
Cotelea is currently working on a new tobacco law and drafting the first National Program of Food and Nutrition. She is also working to incorporate health issues into political agendas. The “health in all policies” approach she is promoting incorporates health into policies across government sectors and increases accountability of policy makers for health consequences resulting from their policies.
As the first woman to hold the position of chief state sanitary doctor in Moldova and the second female deputy minister of health, Cotelea is also strengthening the leadership role of women in Moldovan public administration and policy making at all levels.
Mary Meck Higgins, associate professor of human nutrition and K-State Research and Extension human nutrition specialist, served as Cotelea’s academic advisor while at the university.
“Sveta was passionate about promoting health and being an advocate for public health policies. She was an excellent student and has an unusually high level of initiative and compassion,” Higgins said. “I am very pleased, but not surprised, that she is now in a position where she can serve so many residents of her home country by leading their health services.”
Cotelea attended Kansas State University through the Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program. The program helps bring emerging leaders in key professional fields from Eurasia to the United States for graduate study. Fellows are able to gain skills and knowledge in fields that they often cannot study in their home countries.
“I was very lucky to study at Kansas State University,” Cotelea said, “however, K-State was not completely my own choice.”
According to the program, fellows cannot choose their university placement and are assigned to a university based on formulated expectations for the academic program and opportunities for professional development.
“I have to say that in my case, it was a perfect match.”