|New Caribbean health agency, CARPHA, to begin operations on January 1|
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 19 December 2012 (PAHO/WHO) — The newly created Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), which provides a collective response to public health challenges for residents and visitors in the Caribbean, will begin formal operations on January 1, 2013.
CARPHA will serve as the lead agency for coordinating pan-Caribbean action in areas including disease surveillance, development of human resources for health, emergency preparedness and response, health promotion and communication, and policy development. Based in Trinidad and Tobago, it will house a regional laboratory and coordinate a network of laboratories in other Caribbean countries as well.
CARPHA’s Board of Directors, at a meeting in Port of Spain last week, announced the appointment of Dr. James Hospedales, of Trinidad and Tobago, as the agency’s new Executive Director. Dr. Hospedales is a former director of CAREC and currently senior advisor on prevention and control of chronic diseases at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).
CARPHA is an initiative of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and was created through the merger of five regional health institutions: the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC), the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI), the Caribbean Health Research Council (CHRC), Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI), and the Caribbean Regional Drug Testing Laboratory (CRDTL). PAHO/WHO and international partners including Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom provided support for the new agency’s development.
CARPHA will be located initially at the current CAREC site in Port of Spain but is expected to move to new premises in Coura, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, by the beginning of 2015.
At the meeting last week, CARPHA’s Board of Directors recognized the contributions of the outgoing directors of the five merged agencies and thanked PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses and PAHO Assistant Director Dr. Socorro Gross for their support during the new agency’s development. The Board also acknowledged support from partners including Canada (US$2.5 million for a level-three biosafety laboratory) the European Union (US$2 million), the United Kingdom (US$800,000), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US$5 million for epidemiological training).
CARPHA’s work will be aligned with the principles of the Caribbean Cooperation in Health (CCH III) initiative, which seeks to improve the health of the people of the Caribbean and reduce the risks of disease, injury, and disability. CARPHA was legally established on 2 July 2011 through an inter-governmental agreement signed by CARICOM Member States. Membership in the agency is open to Members and Associate Members of CARICOM.
PAHO, which celebrates its 110th anniversary this year, is the oldest international public health organization in the world. It works with its member countries to improve the health and the quality of life of the people of the Americas. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of WHO.