Delegations from CARICOM Countries Address Priority Health Issues with PAHO Director

Geneva, 21 May 2019 (PAHO/WHO) - Health ministers and authorities from the countries that make up the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) met with the Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa F. Etienne, to address health issues of particular interest to their region.

Health systems strengthening, the High-Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on universal health coverage that will take place in September of this year; the Caribbean regulatory system for medicines and other technologies, noncommunicable diseases, climate change, and smart health care facilities were some of the topics covered at this meeting.

Dr. Etienne congratulated the Caribbean authorities on the Caribbean Regulatory System, which she said represents savings for the countries and gains in efficiency. She reported that even outside the Region, the system’s model is being recognized as an effective model, especially for small island states with limited human resources.The PAHO Director also acknowledged Jamaica’s leadership in the “Jamaica Moves” campaign and “Caribbean Moves” to promote healthy lifestyles, and reviewed the challenges and progress made with measures aimed at preventing noncommunicable diseases, such as taxes on sugary beverages, bans on their sale in schools, and front-of-package labeling of food.  The outcomes of the Third Global Conference on Health and Climate that took place in Grenada in 2018 were also discussed. Etienne reported that PAHO has raised funds to build climate resilient health systems and smart health care facilities in the Caribbean.  She said that more than 326 health facilities were evaluated in terms of ecological and safety standards, and 54 were selected for adaptation. To date, seven facilities have been updated, and another 13 should be completed by August 2019.  

The CARICOM Community has 15 full members, all of which are PAHO Member States. The meeting between CARICOM health ministers and PAHO takes place every year in parallel to the World Health Assembly.

Representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago were present at the meeting, along with members of the CARICOM Secretariat and the Secretariat of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).