Washington, D.C., 19 March 2020 [PAHO] - The Director of the Department of Health Systems and Services at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), James Fitzgerald, met with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Haiti, Joseph Jouthe, during a technical mission to Haiti, from 17-19 March, to strengthen PAHO´s support in the country in preparedness to a possible introduction of COVID-19.
At the meeting, James Fitzgerald, alongside PAHO/WHO Haiti representative, Luis Felipe Codina, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the United Nations system in Haiti, Bruno Lemarquis, and the Haitian Prime Minister discussed the preparedness measures set in place by the Haitian government for a possible response to COVID-19.
“It is important that health services in the countries of the Americas are prepared for detecting, diagnosing and caring for patients requiring medical attention for COVID-19,” said James Fitzgerald. “We are working alongside Haitian authorities to enhance national laboratories´ capacity and strengthen health systems capacity to ensure an effective and rapid response to COVID-19.”
Priority actions that were identified in this meeting included improving access to health services and hospitals to provide care for all who need it. The Prime Minister affirmed commitment to increase funding for the construction, strengthening and organization of emergency and isolation health services to accommodate possible cases of COVID-19. In line with PAHO recommendations for a multisectoral response to COVID-19, the country is working on establishing a task force bringing together the relevant sectors, key public institutions, private and international partners to mitigate against the spread of Coronavirus.
The PAHO delegation also met the Minister of Public Health and Population, Marie Gréta Roy Clément, and members of her team to discuss the preparation and response plan for COVID-19 drawn up by the ministry.
PAHO provided 500 test kits for COVID-19 to the Ministry of Health, Haiti, along with a training on laboratory diagnosis and detection of the disease. Training has also been held in other Caribbean countries, including in Suriname, Barbados, Jamaica, and Dominica.
During the last month, countries in the Region have been working to ensure strengthened surveillance, health service readiness, and preventative public health measures, while maintaining essential services, to slow transmission and save lives.