August 24, 2023 -GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – A representative from the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), executing agency of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, Dr. Daphne Illis, recently attended the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Regional Health Security (RHS) Planning Meeting in Trinidad & Tobago.
The two-day meeting discussed the transboundary spread of infectious diseases as a threat to regional and global health security. The devastating global impact of COVID-19 and other
public health concerns, reiterate the necessity for regional and global health security to protect and improve health.
RHS encompasses the capacities required for the Caribbean to prepare for and respond to public health threats, risks, priority issues and concerns that transcend national boundaries and potentially impact economic stability, trade, tourism, and access to goods and services in the Region.
RHS offers a coordinated approach which is especially crucial in the Caribbean as the Region – like the Pacific and African small island developing states – is characterized by small, under-resourced populations and varying surveillance, laboratory, and human resource capacities.
It is also highly interconnected with porous borders, heavily reliant on tourism, and susceptible to climate change and disasters.
The major outcomes of this meeting included the detailing and prioritization of Member States’ current needs, increased awareness of CARPHA’s integrated surveillance and capacity-building work and strengthening partnerships.
These elements will assist in developing the sustainable RHS Pathway in short order. This 2023 meeting follows the RHS meeting held in July 2022 in which CARPHA developed an RHS framework and conducted consultations with 84 stakeholders.
This combination of factors significantly increases the region’s exposure and vulnerability to disease spread, enabling rapid spread of highly transmissible communicable diseases.
Furthermore, the tropical climate and abundance of competent vectors make the region particularly vulnerable to vector-borne disease outbreaks.
Consequently, regional health security and prevention, preparedness and response to public health emergencies need to be improved not only at the national level but at the regional level, as functional regional capacities are greater than the sum of the capacities of individual countries for improving RHS in the Caribbean.
The meeting took place from August 8-9th 2023, at the Hilton Trinidad Hotel and Conference Centre. The RHS Planning Meeting was attended by Chief Medical Officers, a Permanent Secretary and other health representatives from 21 CARPHA Member States, 11 regional and international agencies and three (3) international developmental partners (IDPs).