Bridgetown, Barbados, 20 June 2023 (PAHO/WHO) – During a courtesy call on the margins of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Ministerial Conference on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) and mental health, Pan American Health (PAHO) Director, Dr Jarbas Barbosa, expressed thanks to the European Union (EU) for their critical ongoing partnerships to improve the health of the people of the Caribbean.
Dr Barbosa and Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, Head of Delegation to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, discussed how the two organisations can continue to partner to leverage the lessons learned from the pandemic and the EU/CARIFORUM Climate Change and Health project, (2020-2025) to strengthen climate-resilient health systems. The two leaders and their respective teams discussed opportunities for cooperation through not only grant funding but also in the sharing of EU expertise.
Ambassador Wasilewska reaffirmed that the health sector is a priority for the European Union, and it would be included in the July 17-18 EU-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit of Heads of State and Government in Brussels. The Summit will bring together European, Latin America, and Caribbean leaders to renew and strengthen relations after almost a decade of absence of bi-regional dialogue at the highest political level.
The two parties also noted the need to increase resilience, including leveraging the expertise gained from smart (safe + green) health facilities, building procurement alliances, and tackling the vulnerabilities exposed in the health sector. The EU funded the Health Sector Support Programme project in Belize which has a smart hospitals component and smart community centres/shelters in the British Virgin Islands.
The Smart Hospital initiative builds on the Safe Hospital Initiative and focuses on improving hospitals' resilience, strengthening structural and operational aspects and providing green technologies. Energy improvements include solar panels installations, rainwater harvesting systems and low-consumption electrical systems.