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Remarks By Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite, Caribbean Community Deputy Secretary-general, At The Third Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) International Partners Event, Washington D.c. Friday 14 September 2012

​(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Chairman, Dr. The Honourable Bherri Ramsaran, Minister of Health, Republic of Guyana; Senator the Honourable Faud Khan, Minister of Health, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago; Representative Member States and Associate Members; Dr. Mirta Roses, Director, Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO); Sir George Alleyne, Director Emeritus PAHO; Dr Jerome Walcott, Interim Director of CARPHA; Dr. Edward Greene, Adviser, Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA); Development Partners; Specially invited guests; Members of the media; Friends of CARPHA, All

I wanted to salute everyone present to demonstrate the enormous and wide-ranging support that exists for CARPHA. It is indeed a pleasure for me to represent the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat at this Third Partners Meeting of the Caribbean Public Health Agency – CARPHA, having attended the Second Partners Meeting in June of last year and the landmark inaugural meeting of the Executive Board last September.

We are all aware of the significant and consistent effort over a number of years, on the part of our Governments, development partners and regional and international organizations which preceded the birth of CARPHA just one short year ago, and four years after the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community approved the merging of the existing Regional Health Institutions into CARPHA. The in-depth feasibility studies and assessments, debates, consultations and negotiations which formed the basis for the establishment of CARPHA were crucial to assuring that this institution would be established on a firm footing with every chance of meeting the expectations of enhanced delivery of public health services to the people of our Region.

The CARICOM Heads of Government, in 2011, signed the Agreement establishing Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). We owe a debt of gratitude to many individuals who believed that CARPHA was in the best interest of the Caribbean Community. As the plans and programmes for CARPHA unfold, we are becoming conscious of its benefits to the development of our Region. It is admirable that many of our visionaries saw that this re-alignment of the Regional Health Institutions (RHIs) would provide an excellent opportunity to retool Caribbean Public Health and to bring it in line with many of the concepts such as partnership. I am excited, for example, by the idea of a Caribbean Public Health Laboratory Network with CARPHA as the central institution playing as much a lead technical role as a steering, parenting role in the enhancement of laboratory capacity at the national level. We will no doubt be apprised during this meeting of the strides made over the past year and other strategic approaches being adopted to ensure the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability in the operations of CARPHA.

Today, we meet in this Third Partners Meeting, ever conscious of the signal role which our partners have played in bringing us to this point and their continued commitment to ensuring sustainability of the gains achieved. The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has played a lead role, not only in providing its technical services but in mobilizing resources for effecting this difficult transition. Today is another example of the determined support for CARPHA which has been continually demonstrated. We have been assured that PAHO’s support to regional public health will remain unchanged for the next biennium. Having been the midwife at birth you are now being asked to raise the child.

Lest you think that CARICOM benefits inordinately from PAHO’s resources, I urge our international colleagues to appreciate the genuineness of the capacity issues in many of our Member States. CARPHA therefore is of benefit, not only to the Member States of CARICOM but for the wider Caribbean, the Americas and the world as it represents a collective mechanism for protecting the Public Health of these economically fragile Small Island States and Region as a whole.

The Government of Canada has also been our steadfast partner in all of this, as it was a CIDA grant which supported the first meaningful study. Canada has continued to demonstrate confidence in the benefits of CARPHA and our ability to establish and sustain it.

I wish also, to acknowledge the UK, US and other international partners for their unstinting support of the CARPHA evolution process. I will not elaborate on the support provided by my own institution, the CARICOM Secretariat except to say that we have brought our capacities strategically to the fore as required in support of the evolutionary process and that we will continue to be supportive.

I wish to assure you that the Caribbean Community appreciates your actions, your continued interest and certainly your pledges of support. We appreciate the challenges facing partner countries and institutions in the current economic environment which now, more than ever, demands that your support should be demonstrably meaningful to the institution. We look forward to welcoming new partners to share in supporting and promoting our vision and commitment to improving public health delivery and the health status of our region, ever mindful of the Nassau Declaration signed by our Governments in 2001, asserting that the Health of our Region is the Wealth of our Region.

As the superintending CARICOM institution, we have a role to ensure that CARPHA maintains the partnerships and respect which the five institutions had acquired over the years. We have been assisted in this by the drive of the Lead Head with responsibility for Health, Dr. the Hon. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and support of the host country for CARPHA, Trinidad and Tobago.

I wish to express our sincerest gratitude to Dr. Mirta Roses, Dr. Jerome Walcott, Sir George Alleyne and Dr Edward Greene for the steadfastness with which they have pursued the establishment of CARPHA. It is my fervent hope that today’s Partners’ meeting will be enlightening for all gathered and that at the end of this meeting ours will be a celebration of a renewed and strengthened commitment to CARPHA. I thank you.

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