- The support from the organisations has been vital to the region's health services especially in combatting viruses like HIV.
- The PAHO Director said Caribbean countries have successfully developed action plans to address issues such as HIV and NCDs.
- PAHO/WHO’s priorities for the next few years include advancing health coverage, reducing the health care gap between territories, and addressing social health issues.
Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, has lauded the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) for reaffirming their support to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries as they work to confront health challenges.
Addressing the 25th Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) at PAHO headquarters in Washington DC, Minister Fenton said the support from the organisations is vital to the region continuing to provide the necessary health services to combat certain diseases.
Their assistance, he said, is also vital in strengthening capacity in complying with the health regulations, which govern how countries respond to outbreaks that may have international repercussions.
Minister Fenton, who is chairman of COHSOD, said the burden of HIV remains a concern in the Caribbean. He urged the countries to work to prevent new cases, especially among young people.
He also noted the importance of addressing non- communicable diseases (NCD) and praised the leadership that Caribbean countries have shown on this issue at the global level.
PAHO Director, Carissa F. Etienne, in her remarks, said that Caribbean countries have collaborated successfully in developing joint action plans in addressing issues such as HIV and NCDs.
She pledged that PAHO “will continue to work to promote a human rights agenda and towards a reduction of stigmatization of (HIV) and those perceived as high risk.”
She added that PAHO/WHO’s strategic priorities for the next few years include advancing universal health coverage, reducing inequities in health between and within countries and territories, and addressing social determinants of health.
Dr. Etienne also congratulated the region on the establishment of the new Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), with Dr. Ferguson as its chair, saying the agency’s launch earlier this year was a milestone in health cooperation.
PAHO/WHO, which played a major supporting role in CARPHA’s establishment, will continue to work closely with and support the agency.
“This is an exciting time for public health in the Caribbean,” said the PAHO Director. “The environment of public health is changing and we have an opportunity to shape it into something which will be of benefit and an example to the region as a whole,” she added.
The COHSOD meeting was part of the just concluded 52nd Directing Council meeting of PAHO, held in Washington DC from September 30 to October 4.