The CARICOM Heads of Government have recognised the risk of the novel corona-virus (Covid-19) to the Region but are also satisfied that the current risk of transmission is low.
In a Communique issued after the hosting of the Thirty-First Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government on 19 February 2020, in Barbados, the Heads outlined that an outbreak could reverse economic gains of CARICOM states, but said they recognised that the risk of transmission of the virus in the Region remained relatively low.
The CARICOM Heads also expressed their empathy and support for China as it continued efforts to contain the virus. The Heads of Government also welcomed efforts by China to assist students and other CARICOM nationals in that country who could not return home and accepted their help to provide support to address potential gaps in a response to Covid-19, should any case be found in the Region.
They also extended commendations to Regional and International Institutions and the CARICOM Secretariat led by CARPHA and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) as well as the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), the Regional Security System (RSS), and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) for providing Member States with guidance to support national response efforts, while strengthening Regional Health Security.
In relation to another health issue affecting the Region, the Heads expressed concern about the escalation of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases. They received a report with respect to the incidence of heart attacks which accounted for the highest percentages of deaths amongst NCDs in most countries in the Region.
Heads of Government welcomed proposals for preventative measures to arrest the trend through the implementation of a protocol aimed at transforming the care of those who suffer cardiovascular diseases.
Heads of Government recognised that implementing the proposals would build CARICOM’s capacity to address the incidence of heart disease and in that regard mandated the CARICOM Secretariat, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Caribbean Cardiac Society to prepare a Draft Regional Strategy aimed at identifying critical Regional public goods essential for operating that strategy.