CARICOM Ministers of Health Agree to tackle Regional Health Security and Health Systems Matters
CARICOM Health Ministers on 26 April considered and approved actions and policies to tackle regional health security and health systems matters at the Twenty-Ninth Special Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) – Health in The Bahamas.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Alison Drayton, Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development, CARICOM Secretariat, raised the alarm about the declining rates of routine national childhood immunisation.
“Another disconcerting health issue for us at this time is the declining rates in our national childhood vaccination”, stated the Assistant Secretary-General, “I am aware that some Member States have started robust interventions to address this issue, but we will need to accelerate these efforts to avert the possible consequences of declining immunisation rates”.
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) technical advisors were invited to report on the status of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation in CARICOM Member States, a topic that generated much discussion and resulted in the passing of the Declaration of Nassau: Reinvigorating the National Immunisation Programs of the Caribbean.
Also discussed were the elimination of communicable and tropical diseases, the migration of Health Care Workers, a perennial issue in the Region, and the implementation of action plans to address Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). Dr. Franka des Vignes, PAHO Advisor, Disease Surveillance and Epidemiology, highlighted that phase two of the Cooperation among Countries for Health Development project between PAHO, Argentina, and 14 CARICOM Member States, will scale up and strengthen capacity for AMR diagnosis and surveillance.
The Ministers deliberated on the need to address the critical issue of the migration of healthcare workers (HCWs) and called for regional discussion on ways to tackle this issue and for better training opportunities for the healthcare workforce.
In his response Dr. Benjamin Puertas, Unit Chief, Human Resources for Health (HRH) at PAHO, noted the importance of the HRH Caribbean Commission for developing and implementing policy actions to address the migration of HCWs and the need to expand health workforce capacity building in the Region. Dr. Puertas mentioned that World Health Organization (WHO) funding for the Caribbean “is on the way”.
CARICOM Ministers of Health and technical leaders in public health present included Hon Dr. Ellis Webster, Premier and Minister of Health, Anguilla, Hon. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness, The Bahamas, Sen. Dr. The Most Hon. Jerome X. Walcott, Minister of Health and Wellness and Senior Minister Coordinating Social and Environmental Policy, Barbados, Hon. Kevin Bernard, Minister, Ministry of Health and Wellness, Belize, Dr. Narine Singh, Chief Medical Officer, Guyana, Dr. Laure Adrien, Director General, Ministry of Public Health and Population, Haiti, Hon. Dr Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health and Wellness, Jamaica, Hon. St. Clair E. Prince, Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, H.E. Dr. Amar Ramadhin, Minister of Health, Suriname, and Hon. Shaun Malcolm, Minister of Health, Turks and Caicos Islands.
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