International Health Regulations (2005) Caribbean Sub-Regional Meeting for Border Health and Points of Entry hosted in Trinidad and Tobago

International Health Regulations group photo
PAHO/Phillip Joseph

Port of Spain, 12 March 2024: Marked the commencement of the 3-day International Health Regulations (2005) Caribbean Sub-Regional Meeting for Border Health and Points of Entry. This gathering was convened in preparation for the upcoming 2024 International Cricket Council (ICC) Men's T20 World Cup.

Delegates from 16 Caribbean countries, territories, and strategic partners congregated to delve into discussions aimed at fortifying the strategies pertaining to Points of Entry (PoE) and Border Health (BH) in the Caribbean subregion. Over the course of three days, the focal points of deliberation included devising a roadmap for enhancing capacity in implementing the International Health Regulations (IHR) concerning ship sanitation and the issuance of Ship Sanitation Control Certificates (SSCC).

Additionally, attention was directed towards crafting contingency plans for addressing public health emergencies in the Caribbean subregion. Another agenda item was the formulation of a work plan for bolstering the management of public health events during air travel, particularly at designated airports as mandated by the IHR (2005). This initiative falls under the auspices of the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Furthermore, discussions extended to the augmentation of surveillance capabilities in the Caribbean subregion, with a specific focus on the upcoming 2024 ICC Men's T20 World Cup.

During the opening ceremony, Dr. Gabriel Vivas Francesconi, the PAHO/WHO Representative for Trinidad and Tobago and the Dutch Entities, underscored the imperative of robust border management systems in light of recent health crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. He emphasized the necessity for a multisectoral approach to enhance border management capabilities, ensuring effective prevention, detection, and response to communicable diseases.

In his opening address, the Honorable Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh, emphasized the significance of today's gathering, highlighting the joint commitment of the PAHO/WHO to Regional Health Security.

Minister Deyalsingh presented projections indicating an anticipated influx of 88,000 cruise-ship visitors to our shores in 2024, with over 6,000 arrivals in the past fortnight alone. These numbers are expected to rise substantially across the entire Caribbean Region, including delivery and trade ships, with some coinciding with the World Cup. Such data underscores the imperative for stringent measures concerning the issuance of Ship Sanitation Control Certificates (SSCC) and exemptions, a key focus of this Sub-Regional Meeting.

Other notable figures who addressed the audience during the opening ceremony included Mr. Dean Chambliss, the Subregional Program Director for the Caribbean at PAHO/WHO and Dr. Tamara Mancero, Regional Advisor for International Health Regulations and Public Health Emergencies at PAHO/WHO.