15th CARPHA Executive Board Meeting discusses Regional Approach to Fighting the Zika Virus among other health related issues 

Executive Director of CARPHA, Dr. C James Hospedales. Photo / Caricom

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) based in Trinidad & Tobago, concluded its Executive Board Meeting recently which took place during the 55th Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Directing Council meeting that took place in Washington, DC.

Dr. Virginia Asin, Head of the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department from the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, attended the meeting and represented the country on the Executive Board.

“We discussed a number of issues such as the minutes of matters arising out of the 14th Executive Board Meeting, the Executive Director’s Report: Technical and Managerial highlights and way forward in the context of the Caribbean Coalition of Health IV.

“Other business discussed was the research conference report, technical advisory committee report, an update on Zika, 2017 Work Plan, 2016 Financial Update, and the 2017 Budget and 2014 Audit Report.

“There was much discussion about the Zika virus in the Region since it has been diagnosed in all Caribbean countries and territories. There needs to be increased attention paid to pregnant women and adherence to prenatal screening.  Additional attention must be paid to the elimination of mosquito breeding sites.

“Zika poses a significant threat to health and economic security of the Region, but at the same time creates an opportunity to strengthen national and regional public health capacities.

“The Region is confronted once again with another mosquito-borne disease which shows that there is a gap in our regional health security which was a general consensus reached at the meeting.  All agreed that we must redouble our efforts in order to Beat Zika,” Dr. Virginia Asin stated.

CARPHA is the new single regional public health agency for the Caribbean. It was legally established in July 2011 by an Inter-Governmental Agreement signed by Caribbean Community Member States and began operation in January 2013. CARPHA is governed by an Executive Board of which Sint Maarten became a member in June 2016.

The Agency rationalizes public health arrangements in the Region by combining the functions of five Caribbean Regional Health Institutes (RHIs) into a single agency. They are: he Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI); the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC); the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI); the Caribbean Health Research Council (CHRC); and the Caribbean Regional Drug Testing Laboratory (CRDTL).

The objectives of CARPHA are: to promote the physical and mental health and wellness of people within the Caribbean; to provide strategic direction, in analyzing, defining and responding to public health priorities of the Caribbean Community; to promote and develop measures for the prevention of disease in the Caribbean; to support the Caribbean Community in preparing for and responding to public health emergencies and threats; to support solidarity in health, as one of the principal pillars of functional cooperation in the Caribbean Community; and to support the relevant objectives of the Caribbean Cooperation in Health (CCH).