International Partners endorse new Caribbean Public Health Agency

CARICOM Secretariat, Guyana – The proposed Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) received full approval by several international partners at a Partners’ Conference in Washington on Monday.

Director of the Pan American Health Organisation, PAHO/WHO, Dr Mirta Roses and more than 25 international partners endorsed the creation of this regional entity, which is expected to rationalize the Caribbean regional public health services when it becomes fully operational in 2015.

The new agency will provide a collective response to public health emergencies and disasters and on-going public health development needs for the people of the Caribbean.

This historic meeting, chaired by Dr the Hon Leslie Ramsammy, Minister of Health, Guyana, held at the PAHO/WHO Headquarters in Washington DC, saw international delegations from the Governments of USA, Canada, France, UK, Sweden, the Netherlands and CARICOM Ambassadors to the OAS, and Representatives from Global organizations including the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Tourism Organization among others including NGOs.

Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr the Hon Denzil Douglas, whose country has lead responsibility for Human Resources, Health and HIV/AIDS within the Quasi Cabinet of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government, gave the keynote address. He emphasized the commitment of CARICOM Heads of Government to the creation of a new, single, people-focused Public Health Agency that would span the Caribbean and all its residents and visitors.  He emphasized how this single voice for Caribbean public health would assist the international community in working with the region, and in implementing international health guidelines.

In a statement at the end of the meeting, Prime Minister Douglas said it was a “most wonderful experience” and commended the international partners’ support for this ‘step-change’ in public health for the Caribbean region.

“Our partners support this venture enthusiastically, not only institutions that have been working with us, but also other agencies,” he reported.

The CARICOM Secretariat will now coordinate the development of the resource mobilization plan for CARPHA, for presentation to the Caribbean Community Caucus of Ministers of Health for approval at the end of September 2010.

CARPHA will begin operating on a phased basis from December 2010. It will combine and build on the functions of the Caribbean’s five Regional Health Institutions: Caribbean Epidemiological Research Center (CAREC); Caribbean Health Research Council (CHRC); Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI); Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI); Caribbean Drug Testing Regional Laboratory (CDTRL).

Further informationwww.carpha.org

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