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CARPHA Strengthens Its COVID-19 Testing Capacity with Japan Donation

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.   Thanks to a bilateral cooperation program, the Japan-CARICOM Friendship and Cooperation Fund, the CARPHA Medical Microbiology Laboratory (CMML) received twenty-three (23) Viral RNA Test Kits valued at US$43,411 which are expected to conduct approximately 5,750 tests. The laboratory supplies will go a long way in supporting CARPHA’s capacity to test for COVID-19.

In addition to the support to CARPHA, the Government of Japan also provided the sum of US$267,724 from the Association for Promotion of International Cooperation (APIC) for the purchase of kits to conduct approximately 72,090 tests for Guyana, Jamaica and Suriname.

The donations, made by His Excellency Tatsuo Hirayama, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, were received by the CARPHA Executive Management Team at a ceremony which took place on Tuesday 5th October, at the Agency’s headquarters located in Port of Spain.   

Dr. Lisa Indar, Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control at CARPHA welcomed the delegation, and expressed thanks to the Government of Japan.  Following this, Dr. Mark Sami, Director, Corporate Services, provided a brief presentation on the history of the Government of Japan’s support to CARPHA, which includes four (4) active projects as well as projects in the pipeline.

CARPHA is leading the regional health response to COVID-19, in keeping with its Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) and mandate as a CARICOM institution and recommendations from the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD)-Health Working Group on Regional Coordination for Response Management. 

“CARPHA is pleased to receive these items which will add to our ability to provide support to the Governments and People of the Region in their continued fight against COVID-19,”  Dr. Joy St. John, CARPHA Executive Director said at the handover ceremony.   “We would like to express our gratitude for the continued and considerate support to fight this COVID-19 pandemic from the Government and People of Japan, through the Japan-CARICOM Friendship and Cooperation Fund. This contribution to enhance the testing capacity of the CARPHA Medical Microbiology Laboratory is the latest in a long history of support provided to the Region by the Government and People of Japan. 

Dr. St. John also expressed her appreciation for the ongoing collaboration between CARPHA and the CARICOM Secretariat and more importantly, for the trust and confidence that the Secretary General of CARICOM, Dr. Carla Barnett – represented by Assistant Secretary General Dr. Douglas Slater – has placed in CARPHA to execute these important projects which bring benefits to the people of the Caribbean.

CARICOM Secretariat’s Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development, Dr Douglas Slater voiced gratitude to the government and people of Japan for their continued support, cooperation, and partnership with the Region.  Dr Slater, who was speaking on behalf of the CARICOM Secretary General said “We are focussing today on the handover of the RNA kits to address the challenges we have had with COVID-19.  Due to the impact of this disease on all aspects of our lives, we sincerely appreciate how important this is for us to be best prepared through our lead public health institution CARPHA, to help our Member States manage the process going forward.”

His Excellency Tatsuo Hirayama, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago commended CARPHA stating “I take this opportunity to pay my respect and tribute to the Agency for its essential role in fighting against the Pandemic in this region. His Excellency went on to say that “Japan and CARICOM have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship based on our shared principles and values that include, among others, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Building on our long-standing cooperative relations, it is my utmost pleasure to witness the procurement of approximately 77,840 PCR test kits utilizing more than US$300,000.  He expressed his hope that the test kits will facilitate CARICOM member countries in conducting necessary tests expeditiously, thus contributing to detecting infections early.

Ms. Aneesa Doodnath-Siboo, Principal Pharmacist, Ministry of Health, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago delivered remarks on behalf of the Honourable Minister of Health Mr. Terrence Deyalsingh.  Ms Doodnath-Siboo highlighted the close and beneficial relationship with CARPHA, stating “The value of this affiliation has definitely been made evident by the collaborative approach to the fight against COVID-19.  In closing she said “RNA extraction is the first step of the PCR testing process.  Thus, I cannot stress enough the importance of these contributions towards the COVID-19 management programme for the Caribbean community.  This significant donation will ensure the receipt of quality and equitable test results from COVID-19 testing facilities and utilise the latest technology for COVID-19 diagnosis

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), acting through the Caribbean Community Secretariat, and CARPHA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to Support CARPHA Member States in managing and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded by the Government and people of Japan, through the Japan-CARICOM Friendship and Cooperation Fund, this project is aimed at strengthening the capacity of CARPHA’s Medical Microbiology Laboratory to undertake additional testing on behalf of its Member States.

Photo caption: (left to right) Dr. Joy St John CARPHA Executive Director receives Viral RNA Test Kits from His Excellency Tatsuo Hirayama, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. (center on monitor) Dr Douglas Slater, CARICOM Secretariat’s Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development looks on.

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