Dr. Joxel Garcia is a physician and a former four-star admiral in the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. He served as the thirteenth Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH), US Department of Health and Human Services from March 13, 2008 to January 20, 2009. Most recently he served as the President of the Ponce School of Medicine, Ponce, Puerto Rico.
From 1999 to 2003 Dr. Garcia was Commissioner of Public Health for the state of Connecticut. During that time, he instituted a bioterrorism preparedness program, launched the national smallpox preparation and vaccination plans, and led Connecticut’s response to the anthrax attack. He also created urban health initiatives for disease prevention, and managed improvements in health literacy and economic conditions.
From 2003 to 2006, Dr. García served as Deputy Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/Regional Office Western Hemisphere for the World Health Organization. As Deputy Director, García was responsible for setting the general direction and strategy of the organization alongside the director and for providing leadership and advice on all policy decisions. He was also responsible for maintaining effective relations between the organization and the governments of the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
Dr. Garcia was nominated for appointment by President George W. Bush for the position of Assistant Secretary for Health with the rank of admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in late 2007. He was confirmed by the US Senate on March 14, 2008, becoming the first Puerto Rican to serve as Assistant Secretary for Health.
As the Assistant Secretary for Health, García was the primary advisor to the Secretary of Health on matters involving the nation’s public health system and health science. He also oversaw the US Public Health Service and its Commissioned Corps for the Secretary of Health. In his position, García’s responsibilities included disease prevention, health promotion, public health preparedness, women’s and minority health, reduction of health disparities, fight against HIV/AIDS, pandemic influenza planning, and vaccine preventable diseases. García's experience in public health encompassed health care delivery, bioterrorism preparedness, health policy, and international health affairs.