CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, has commended the health emergency response mechanism engineered by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to keep the Community free of the novel coronavirus (COVID 19).
Secretary-General LaRocque said the inter-agency collaboration that is taking place is another example of the co-ordination required to address the challenges to integration.
The SG was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 31st Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM. The two-day meeting began on February 18th at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in St Michael, Barbados.
Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) has deemed the risk of COVID 19 to the Caribbean as low, he told the meeting that the Region has “adopted a pro-active approach” to the threat. This included the convening of an Emergency Meeting of the Ministers of Health on the virus, with participation from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
In acknowledging the critical role of the Regional Security System in transporting samples for laboratory testing at CARPHA, the Secretary-General said “we all must do our part to stave off the epidemic of chronic Non-Communicable Diseases and the spread of the global viruses that threaten to engulf us.”
While CARICOM Member States have no case of the novel coronavirus, they have responded robustly to the threat. They have boosted ports of entry screening, enhanced medical quarantines, and have increased public awareness to combat misinformation on the virus as well as increase general knowledge on preventing respiratory infections. CARICOM Member States have also been working closely with the Pan American Health Organisation to enhance national preparedness and to strengthen the capacity of the national laboratories to detect the virus.