Hurricane response: Caribbean disaster agency comes of age

Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Mr.Ronald Jackson
Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Mr.Ronald Jackson

Caribbean governments want to be “taken seriously” in humanitarian management, and this year’s hurricane crises are an opportunity for the UN to “let go”, says a senior regional official. The Caribbean is dealing with “something we’ve never experienced before” but proudly coping, Ronald Jackson, head of the 18-member Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, told IRIN, adding that CDEMA effectively playing a leadership role is a “glimpse of the future”.

At times, sharing and assigning responsibilities has been tricky in the rolling crises caused by recent hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria: Several sources close to the Caribbean operations had told IRIN of a tense relationship between CDEMA and parts of the deployed UN teams.

But Jackson, speaking to IRIN from the CDEMA office in Barbados, brushed such talk aside. He said CDEMA would play its mandated role at the forefront of the response and looked forward to a “posture of support” from the UN humanitarian system, which didn’t mean the UN should “disappear”. Referring to UN assistance in the past, he added: “you’ve held our hand while we crawled”, but now “we’re walking”.

Read more at: IRINNEWS

CARICOM Health Ministers meeting in Washington

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Ministers and other participants at the COHSOD Meeting in Washington joined by the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Director of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO)

The Region’s Health Ministers, currently meeting in Washington, have expressed solidarity with the people of Dominica whose country was devastated by Category 5 Hurricane Maria last Monday.

The Ministers, attending a Meeting of the CARICOM Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) approved the formation of a Caribbean Immunisation Technical Advisory group (CITAG), and endorsed the work of the Regional Health Information System.

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US Health Secretary Tom Price joins Ministers and other COHSOD delegates at the signing of the MOU with CARPHA

The Meeting congratulated  Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Montserrat for attaining the status of Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and Syphilis.

COHSOD also approved a Monitoring and Evaluation plan for CCH IV (Caribbean Cooperation in Health Initiative), adopted by CARICOM Health Ministers in 1984 to optimise the utilisation of resources and promote technical cooperation among member Countries.  The Meeting vowed to be actively engaged in preparation for the UN General Accessibly Special Session on NCDs and urged Member States to participate at the highest level.

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CARPHA’s Executive Director Dr. James Hospidales and US Health Secretary Tom Price sign MOU

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) used its presence in Washington to sign an MOU with the US Department of Health and Human Services.  It recognises technical and financial collaboration existing between CARPHA and US Health Institutions (CDC, NIH, USAID, HEARSA).  The agreement was signed by CARPHA’s Executive Director Dr James Hospidales and Health Secretary Tom Price and was witnessed by the PAHO Director and the CARICOM Secretariat’s Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development, Dr Douglas Slater.

CARICOM Heads of Government meet on Hurricane situation

Heads1Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) met in special emergency session today, Saturday 10 September to receive an update on the effects of the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Jose on the Region and progress on the co-ordinated response to provide relief for those affected.

The meeting, presided over by CARICOM Chairman, Dr the Rt Honourable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, received a full briefing on the situation from representatives of the affected countries, the Caribbean Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA), the Community’s lead agency for disaster response, CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque and regional institutions.

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CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque and Chef-de-Cabinet Charmaine Atkinson-Jordan at the meeting

Premier of the British Virgin Islands, (BVI) the Honourable Dr Orlando Smith, the Prime Minister of The Bahamas the Honourable Dr Hubert Minnis, the Foreign Minister of Haiti, the Honourable Antonio Rodrigues and a representative of the Turks and Caicos Government provided the latest information on their countries. Prime Minister of Dominica, the Honourable Roosevelt Skerritt provided information on the situation on the island of St Maarten where a significant number of CARICOM nationals are currently located and Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, the Honourable Allen Chastenet alerted the meeting to the situation in St Kitts and Nevis. (more…)