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CARICOM Health Ministers Discuss Technical Cooperation with PAHO Director

10th October, 2019

During the recently held Council on Health and Social Development (COHSOD) meeting in Washington, D.C., Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa Etienne, addressed CARICOM Health Minister’s concerns, including the need to build resilience for climate-related disasters.

Minister of Health of the Bahamas, Dr.Duane Sands.

On the heels of the devastating impact of Hurricane Dorian and the ongoing recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Bahamas’ Minister of Health, Dr. Duane Sands, applauded PAHO and the Ministers for their assistance. He however pointed out that there was a need for additional tangible solutions and support, including the use of informetric medical records and the construction of more resilient health care facilities.

This was also underscored by the representatives from Grenada, Dominica and Antigua, who pointed out that CARICOM relied heavily on international partners, including PAHO, when disaster struck. Given the increased frequency and intensity of disasters, demand for assistance would no doubt, increase. This, the Ministers anticipated, would necessitate additional resources in order to respond.

PAHO’s Subregional Program Coordinator for the Caribbean, Jessie Schutt-Aine, participated in the meeting and explained that the Director had made a strong commitment to supporting Member States. “In response to Member State requests, PAHO, thanks to funds from Norway, is organizing a meeting with the Green Climate Fund to train health professionals on how to develop proposals for the Fund. We hope that this will lead to a greater access to resources to support the link between Climate Change and Health.” Mrs. Schutt-Aine said. The Director General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, also attended the meeting and offered support towards climate change and universal health care.

CARICOM Programme Manager, Health Sector Development.

Dr. Rudolph Cummings, CARICOM Programme Manager, Health Sector Development, provided an update on the upcoming consultative meeting between the Councils for Trade and Economic Development and Human and Social Development, scheduled for November 2019, to discuss converging trade and health issues related to diet and alcohol. “The health sector needs to look out for health’s interests during the national discussion which will take place before the meeting of officials, scheduled for 29th October”, Dr. Cummings said.

The Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS presented on the new Regional Framework on HIV/AIDS and produced key discussions on HIV. The report highlighted that 90% of new infections are occurring in four Caribbean countries and led to a discussion on the need to advocate for increased funding for HIV to maintain the gains achieved over the last twenty years. The PAHO presentation on Anti-microbial Resistance resulted in some Ministers indicating their country’s interest in participating in the Point Prevalence Survey to create baseline information and monitor antibiotic use in hospital settings.

CARICOM Ministers of Health.

Ministers also expressed appreciation for the cooperation among countries for health development project involving Argentina and CARICOM to provide training in sample taking. Member States requested PAHO’s continued support to reduce/eliminate measles in the region and received a preliminary report and recommendations regarding the evaluation of the Caribbean Public Health Agency. Technical presentations also covered recommendations on cancer and heart attack treatment, the traveler’s health policy, childhood obesity and migrant health.