8 April 2013. The 2013 meeting of PAHO’s Caribbean subregional managers opened Monday April 8 at the Barbados Hilton Resort in Bridgetown, Barbados. Present were PAHO/WHO Representatives from the organization’s country offices in the Caribbean.
L to R, sitting Dr. Cecilia Riviera, PWR-Venezuela, Ms. Margareta Sköld, PWR-Jamaica, Dr. Ernest Pate, CPC and PWR-ECC a.i; Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, PAHO Director, Dr. Gerry Eijkemans, PWR-BHA; Dr. Beverley Barnett, PWR-Guyana.
L to R, in the back row:- Dr. Gerardo de Cosio, PWR-Belize; Lorraine Thompson, CPA; Dr. Guillermo Troya, PWR-Suriname; Dr. Noreen Jack, Senior Advisor in the PHCO Office; Dr. Jean Luc Poncelet, WDC and Dr. Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, PWR-Trinidad.
PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne emphasized the importance of responding to the specific needs of member countries in the subregion.
“We need to contextualize the work we are doing by the needs of our Member States,” said the Director. “This region is very diverse, with countries ranging from middle-income countries to one with limited resources. Achievements in terms of health status vary as well. We have in the region Haiti and Cuba, with disparities in their health achievements. Many countries in the Caribbean are going through economic troubles, and we are at a time of declining development assistance. In addition, the Caribbean countries, as Small Island Developing States, face particular problems such as hurricanes. Our response to countries must be in response to their particular needs.”
The Director called on managers to continue efforts on the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as we also begin working on the post-2015 agenda. She also said it was important for countries to continue their work on the social determinants of health and the noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) agenda. She said it was important to recognize that “we are not the only player in public health” and that PAHO needs to be able to influence other partners while maintaining its leadership role.
Director greeting the Hon. John Boyce, Minister of Health, Barbados during the Courtesy Visit at the Hilton Barbados Resort
PAHO subregional managers were also addressed by Minister of Health John Boyce, who highlighted key health achievements in Barbados, including low rates of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, affordable medications, improvements in health infrastructure, and high immunization coverage, among others.
Notwithstanding these achievements, the country faces several challenges, such as an aging population, seasonal outbreaks of dengue, violence, challenges to improving the health system, and the threat of cholera.
Dr. Etienne congratulated Minister Boyce on the good work Barbados is doing and on being on track in achieving the MDGs. She pledged continued PAHO support for the country’s efforts and said both PAHO and its member countries can take lessons from Barbados’s experience.