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(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Plans to establish the Caribbean Regional Public Health Agency (CARPHA) are moving full speed ahead as regional Health Ministers gave the green light to the Steering Committee to step up its legal and operational processes in making CARPHA a reality by 2010.

CARPHA is the proposed regional umbrella agency, endorsed by Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), that will assume the governance and public health functions currently being undertaken by five Regional Health Institutions – the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC), the Caribbean Environment Health Institute (CEHI), the Caribbean Health Research Council (CHRC), the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI), and the Caribbean Regional Drug Testing Laboratory (CRDTL).

Hon John Fabien, Minister of Health, Commonwealth of Dominica and Chair of COHSOD, said “the developments toward the establishment of one regional public health agency to replace the functions now carried out by five regional health institution is yet another example of the dynamics of functional cooperation that would benefit the entire Caribbean Community.”

At the 18th Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COSOD) in Jamaica recently, Health Ministers accepted from the CARPHA Steering Committee, a timetable for the roll out of activities leading up to 2010 as well as the proposal that outlined plans for the structure, functions and costing of the new entity.

With regard to financing the proposed new agency, the COHSOD agreed that a resource mobilization team comprising the CARICOM Secretariat, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and two other institutions be established to address the broader issues of sustainability.

Health Ministers also agreed that CARPHA’s headquarters would be located in Trinidad and Tobago and approved the structure and modality of support that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago would give for the construction of this new headquarters.

It is envisaged that with the establishment of this new regional health agency, the region’s public health sector and programmes would be managed more efficiently to give adequate and effective service to the Community.

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