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(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ministers of Health and Education will be involved in two meetings in Montego Bay, Jamaica next week.

First they will convene the Eighteenth Meeting of the CARICOM Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) and then will meet with their Latin American counterparts to in preparation for a meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The COHSOD will be held on June 3-4 with the Latin American and Caribbean meeting on June 5-6, both at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

The theme of COHSOD is Winds of Change: education and health collaborating to advance Human and Social Development. Its focus is on strategies for implementing joint programmes that place a human face on the flagship priorities of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). A feature presentation will address the impact of the current global economic and financial crisis on the education and health sectors.

On June 3, CARICOM Ministers of Education and Health will meet in separate and concurrent sessions to discuss specific items affecting their respective sectors. In the case of education, the spotlight will be placed on the implementation of the Regional Accreditation Mechanism; the plans for operationalising technical and vocational education, including the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ); the under-achievement of boys in education; and, new directions in teacher education

In the area of Health, the primary focus will be on finalizing the proposals for the establishment of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), aimed at rationalizing the public health functions currently being undertaken by five Regional Health Institutions. Among other premier issues are the follow up to the Port of Spain Declaration on the fight against Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), 2007 including the preparation for the second annual CARICOM Wellness Day, 12 September, 2009 and the implementation of Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) Caribbean Regional Strategic Plan for HIV.

On Thursday, June 4, the COHSOD will focus on Joint Education and Health initiatives such as collaboration among the two sectors to fight both NCDs and HIV. These include discussion on a Report on Strengthening the Education Sector Response to Health; healthy life styles and promoting behaviour change and risk reduction. The meeting will also deal with the revised regional framework of action for children.

Following on the heels of the COHSOD meeting, CARICOM Ministers of Health and Education will join their Latin American counterparts on 5-6 June in another two days of discussions of priorities for dealing with the challenges of HIV, universal access to HIV prevention, care and treatment, the economic implications of HIV and the strategies for resource mobilization

The Meeting, co-sponsored by ECLAC and WHO/PAHO is a follow-up to a Regional Forum held in Mexico in July 2008 on the role of education and health in HIV, and will set a common LAC framework to be advocated at the ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review in September 2009 at the United Nations (UN), in Geneva.

Approximately 70 delegates will participate in the COHSOD Meeting to be chaired by Dominica, while some 100 delegates are expected to attend the ECOSOC meeting.

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