With the health and wellbeing of the region high on the agenda, the Annual Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) Caribbean Country and Sub-regional Managers Meeting got underway at the Veranda Resort on Monday.
The exercise, which is being held here for the first time, brings together PAHO’s Regional Country Managers from across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). It is focusing primarily on the impact of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in the Caribbean and the Pan American Region as well as PAHO’s inter-programmatic work and continued partnership with regional member states.
Minister of Health and the Environment, the Hon. Molwyn Joseph addressed the delegates yesterday (Tuesday) and noted that PAHO’s mission of combating diseases, promoting equity in health and improving the lives of the people of the Americas is alive and well in Antigua and Barbuda
“Here in Antigua and Barbuda, we have solid evidence and can attest to the fact that this mission is alive, bright and vibrant and forms the foundation of the collaboration between your institution and the Ministry of Health and the Environment. You continue to be an invaluable and an indispensable asset to us, as we strive to develop a culture of wellness in our twin island state and to establish a healthcare system which provides the best possible care for all our citizens and residents,” Joseph said.
Minister Joseph also touched on the country’s recent history-making kidney transplant program, noting that it was not just a success for his country alone but for the OECS region on a whole.
“This was the first kidney transplant operation in the OECS and even though Antigua and Barbuda was the trailblazer in this regard, the congratulatory messages and commendations from our OECS brothers and sisters have been heartening and are indicative that our success is viewed as a regional success,” he stated.
Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) are also attending the meeting.
Chief among them is the PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne of Dominica.
While addressing the gathering, Dr Etienne said that technical matters, strategies going forward as well as regional health updates are high on the agenda at this year’s meeting.
“Over the next few days, we will discuss technical and managerial matters; we will update ourselves on the health situation in Antigua and also the health situation of all of the countries in the sub-region. We will address strategies to confront the challenges that our countries experience and we will have the opportunity as well to improve and enhance the technical corporation that we will deliver to our member states and strengthen our planning process,” Dr Etienne disclosed.
Minister Joseph earlier noted that having Dr Etienne in the country will give his fellow cabinet colleagues the opportunity to hear directly from a renowned public health official on the serious risks that NCDs pose to individuals and to countries.
“The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda will receive you and will have the rare opportunity to hear directly from you and other senior PAHO officials on global and regional health issues including the fight against NCDs. And let me pause here, because if there is one challenge facing all of us, it is the fight that we must wage against NCDs,” Joseph said.
Apart from hosts Antigua and Barbuda, some of the other countries in attendance include Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Haiti, Guyana, Suriname, the United Sates, Venezuela, Belize and a host of Eastern Caribbean Countries among others.
The five-day event will conclude on Friday.