The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) has pledged US$750,000 to fund programmes of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) over the next 18 months. Carpha executive director Dr Joy St John said several areas had been identified for deployment of the funds.
St John said when Carpha was founded in 2013, PAHO initially funded the organisation to the tune of US$5 million every two years under a biennial work plan (BWP), the last of which ended in December two years.
“BWP reflected the genesis of Carpha from five regional health institutions, two of which were PAHO institutions, the Caribbean Epidemiology Center (CAREC) and the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI). Thus, PAHO supported technical programs which were essential for the Caribbean region-lab, medicines quality but unlikely to be supported through other sources.
“Traditionally, the PAHO BWP was used as an inter-agency framework but at present, PAHO has transitioned the support to Carpha to that of any other usual subsidiary project. This current allocation of US$750,000 represents a graduation away from Carpha’s dependency on PAHO funds to serve the broad needs of the Caribbean Carpha now serves. It is a clear signal that PAHO sees Carpha as ready to manage resource mobilisation and programme delivery.”
St John said several specific unfunded areas of public health had been identified to which the funds could be applied.
These include strengthening of mechanisms to support access to safe, quality-assured, affordable, essential drugs; development of regional laboratory systems to safely and accurately detect and characterise pathogens, environmental threats and ensure pharmacovigilance and the enabling of countries to prevent, respond, and manage public health through a coordinated approach to implementation of the Global Health Security Agenda roadmap for the Caribbean region.
PAHO sub-regional programme director Dean Chambliss said the signing of the agreement between Carpha and PAHO covering their core collaboration in the next two years was an important milestone.
“This is perhaps the most important element in implementation of the strategic framework agreement between our organisations signed last year. These agreements not only provide structure to our alliance, but also symbolise the commitment we share to working together to advance public health in the Caribbean region, in support of our member States and the Caribbean people.”
He said PAHO’s top priorities for the Caribbean region for the next two years included ensuring full vaccine coverage for all vaccine-preventable diseases, despite some recent setbacks in terms of vaccine misinformation and hesitancy.
PAHO, he said, is also committed to renewing the battle against NCDs, which kill prematurely and lead to much more severe outcomes for those afflicted with the covid19 virus during the pandemic.
He said the covid19 pandemic experience has clearly demonstrated that Carpha is a critical partner to all Caribbean member states as they tackle both acute and chronic health challenges.
St John said the issue of building trust was a critical one without which the Caribbean region could not have survived the pandemic.
She said Carpha’s covid19 response through its leadership of the regional health response included regional coordination with heads of government, the Council for Human and Social Development, the regional coordinating mechanism on health security, chief medical officers, the expert advisory group, and the incident management team-emergency response; and laboratory testing and surveillance among others.