Technical Public Health Leaders Urged To Approach Violence As A Public Health Issue

Participants at the meeting

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown) The Directorate of Human and Social Development, CARICOM Secretariat, facilitated the Thirty-First Meeting of the Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) yesterday, Tuesday, 25 April, in The Bahamas.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Helen Royer, Director, Human and Social Development, CARICOM Secretariat, referred to the recently completed Regional Symposium on Violence as a Public Health Issue: The Crime Challenge in Trinidad and Tobago; she reiterated the call from CARICOM Heads of Government to approach the Region’s crime challenge as a public health issue. “Our leaders are calling on us to view the current crisis not only through a judicial lens, but from a public health perspective,” stated Ms. Royer.

She shared that the new public health approach to crime and violence adopted by Heads of Government is testimony to the fact that the modalities utilised by technical leaders in public health are effective. “This includes the approaches used to address care for chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs), HIV and AIDS, eradicating mother-to-child transmission of HIV and Syphilis and the eradication of childhood diseases,” stated the Director, “We look forward to your support for the implementation of the Heads of Government’s decision”.

In addition, the Director noted that the Region is returning to some form of normalcy with regard to the impact of COVID. However, she underscored the need for continued monitoring and reminded technical experts that CARICOM continues to rely on their guidance to address other regional health security concerns.

Further, Ms. Royer applauded the work of Member States and the guidance of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), which provided effective roadmaps for navigating regional health concerns. “Amidst all our challenges, we have done well; I applaud your heroic efforts”, stated the Director.

However, she challenged the participants to address the significant challenge of declining rates in routine national childhood immunisation programmes.

“You know how hard we have worked to achieve the gains in these areas of the Region’s development agenda, and we must be mindful that if proactive steps are not taken that we stand the chance of losing these gains,” stated Ms. Royer.

Dr. Melissa Diaz- MUSA, Director, Public Health and Wellness, Ministry of Health and Wellness, Belize, chaired the meeting; participants included CMOs, technical leaders in public health and representatives of regional and international health organisations, including CARPHA and PAHO.

Additional highlights from the meeting included an update on the COVID-19 Pandemic and other health security issues in the Region by CARPHA and a report on the status of the expanded programme on immunisations in CARICOM Member States by PAHO. PAHO also shared an update on the Elimination of Communicable and Tropical Diseases in the Caribbean.

Further, the CARICOM Secretariat shared outcomes of the Regional Symposium on Crime and Violence as a Public Health Issue and advocated for support and collaboration from all technical leaders in public health.

The overarching goal of the meeting is to promote regional collaboration in public health and sharing of knowledge and best practices that contribute to better health outcomes for the people of the Caribbean Community.

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