Jamaica is one of 15 Caribbean countries and 23 across the Americas that will benefit from a Can$7.5-million (US$5.3-million) contribution that the Canadian government has pledged to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to boost the response of member states to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
A statement from PAHO on Thursday (June 11) listed Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago as the other Caribbean beneficiaries.
Eight countries in Central and South America will also receive support. They are Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Paraguay.
PAHO indicated that the contribution from Canada will provide for increased access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies critical to restricting COVID-19 transmission and saving lives, with particular focus on populations experiencing marginalisation or vulnerability, including healthcare workers.
The funds are in addition to Can$1.5 million provided by the country earlier this year to PAHO, in response to a donor appeal by the organisation.
PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, said the entity is “grateful to the Government of Canada for its contribution to the Pan American response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the region”.
She noted that the virus outbreak has caused “large upheavals” in health systems across the Americas, adding that “our countries need all the support they can get”.
“Canada’s backing for health protection measures in the Caribbean, Central and South America will help their health workers deal more effectively with these challenges,” Dr. Etienne pointed out.
Canada’s Minister for International Development, Karina Gould, said her country is cognisant of PAHO’s pivotal role in responding to health challenges and emergencies in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“The COVID-19 virus knows no borders, and cooperation with international partners such as PAHO has been key to fighting this global pandemic and minimising its impact on health systems,” she added.
PAHO’s donor appeal, which was launched in March to support and scale up COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts by member countries, is aimed at raising US$94.8 million over six months.
To date, the entity has received US$52.7 million, including US$23.2 million channelled through the World Health Organization (WHO) and US$29.5 million provided directly to PAHO.