Beyond Ebola, laying foundations for Caribbean Regional Health Security

Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, June 4, 2015:  Diseases do not recognise borders, and as such, communicable disease outbreaks and epidemics pose a major threat to health, tourism, social and economic development in every country in the Caribbean region. 

In light of this, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), this week, hosted the first Caribbean Regional Health Security (CRHS) Meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad, which focused on mechanisms to strengthen the Region’s ability to respond to new and emerging threats. 

Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr C James Hospedales, stated that “following the Chikungunya epidemic in 2014, and the ongoing outbreak of Ebola in parts of West Africa, it is critical that the Caribbean region reviews and addresses gaps in its public health systems and capacity.”  Dr Hospedales explained that “this will help to improve the ability of the Region to protect itself against imported infectious disease threats.”  

According to Dr. Hospedales, “this CRHS meeting provides a unique opportunity to renew efforts to position Caribbean regional health security as a high priority in the global public health agenda.”   He also stressed the need for regional collaboration between the public and private sectors.  

Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Representative to Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Bernadette Theodore-Gandi also stated that “collaboration is essential to respond to health security threats.”  She pointed out that “this should not only be a concern of governments, but also civil society, the business community, international and regional organisations.”   

This sentiment was further underscored by Dr Rudolph Cummings, Programme Manager at the CARICOM Secretariat, who remarked that it is imperative that leaders of the Region find innovative ways to work together.

The Minister of Health for Trinidad and Tobago, Senator the Honourable Dr. Fuad Khan, in his feature address told participants that “we must celebrate our achievements no matter how small, and build upon them to be better prepared for any new health threats. He went on to say that “it is necessary to foster a regional approach in priority areas for action.” This he said “is an effective way to support each other and strengthen relationships within the CARICOM Community.”

CARPHA’s hosting of the Caribbean Regional Health Security (CHRS) meeting is in keeping with resolutions made at the Special Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government on November 4, 2014, which decided on a 10 point action plan to address Ebola. The action plan also included the establishment of a Regional Co-ordinating Mechanism on Ebola (RCME) and other emerging threats.  

The 3rd Meeting of the RCME, which also took place this week, provided an opportunity to focus on the progress made in the Region with regards to preparedness and response for Ebola, Chikungunya and other threats.

Show More
Back to top button