Like millions of Lebanese before him, Juan Luis Manzur was born outside Lebanon to a family of Lebanese immigrants. And like millions of Lebanese members of the diaspora before him, Manzur has spent his professional career excelling across more than one sector, and in more than one field.
Born in San Miguel de Tucumán in Argentina to a Lebanese father and an Argentinian mother, Manzur completed his medical degree at the University of Tucumán. He then went on to complete his residency at the public Álvarez Hospital, in Buenos Aires.
After completing his residency, Manzur received his Master’s Degree in Health Systems and Services Administration from the University of Buenos Aires. Following a stint as Vice Minister of Health for the Province of San Luis, in 2002, he was named Public Health Secretary of the District of La Matanza of the Argentinian capital.
Upon the recommendation of the National Health Minister, Ginés González García, Manzur was appointed Health Minister of Tucumán Province by the new Governor, José Alperovich, in 2003.
Manzur quickly earned praise and admiration for the manner through which he performed in his political post, where he oversaw public health in one of Argentina’s least-developed provinces.
One of his major accomplishments during his stint in public service includes the declination in the infant mortality rate. It fell from 23 per 1,000 births (40% above the national average) in 2003, to 13 in 2006 (matching the national average).
Furthermore, the perinatal mortality rate similarly witnessed a sizeable decline throughout this same time frame from 24 to 18 per 1,000 births.
These declinations, as well as his success in his position on both the administrative and political levels, assisted Manzur in securing the endorsement of Governor Alperovich to be a running mate for his successful 2007 bid for re-election.
Manzur was sworn in just one day after a public health emergency was declared over a worsening H1N1 virus (“swine flu”) epidemic, which had claimed 44 fatalities. He went heads-on assuming his position with certainty and determination.
His focus would be thereafter upon expanding childhood immunizations, childhood preventive medicine, diagnostic care against coeliac disease and HPV, mobile health, access to organ transplants, and smoking cessation programs.
Following his new “sweep” of the health landscape, he was met with fierce opposition from the powerful Roman Catholic Church in Argentina.
He was hence coerced into retracting steps toward protecting women’s reproductive rights, canceling all proposals in 2010, which would have guaranteed access to legal abortions to women across the country.
Manzur resigned from his position as Health Minister in February 2015 in order to return to the post of Vice Governor of Tucumán, a position he still serves to this day, succeeding Governor Alperovich after a successful run in the Provincial Elections in the same year.