Health Systems and UHC Partnership Washington, DC, 18 November 2019 (PAHO)—Experts from country and sub-regional offices in the Caribbean participated in a meeting at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), in Washington D.C., to move forward with the implementation of a new European Union (EU) funded grant for 'Health Systems Strengthening for Universal Health Coverage Partnership', recently agreed between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the EU, for countries belonging to the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP). The initiative seeks to strengthen the health systems' response to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Caribbean.

"As Caribbean countries continue to work towards reaching the SDGs by 2030, there are some 17 million people in the Caribbean who continue to face persistent challenges in ensuring their health and wellbeing," said the Director of the Pan American Health Organization, Carissa F. Etienne. 
"A collective and integrated response is required in the Caribbean to stem the tide of NCDs, and a collective and integrated response based on the Primary Health Care Strategy is required from us, in the delivery of our technical cooperation," she added. 

The project will focus on strengthening national and regional capacities to address key health systems components, such as (1) governance/strategic planning and policy dialogue; (2) access to medicines and health products; (3) health workforce; (4) health financing; (5) health information, and (6) service delivery, with a view to addressing the burden of non-communicable diseases.

"The fragmentation and segmentation of health systems mean that people are not receiving the integrated, comprehensive care that they need," said James Fitzgerald, Director of the Department of Health Systems and Services at PAHO. "Health systems should address the needs of the people at the community level, and that's why Primary Health Care must be at the center of our response," he added. 

The expected outcome of the program is country health systems strengthened and more resilient to address NCDs. The initiative will have an inter-programmatic and interdepartmental approach, with experts from PAHO's Department of Health Systems and Services and PAHO's Department of Non-Communicable Disease and Mental Health working together.

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The countries that will receive support through this project are Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.