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CARPHA and IDB Sign Landmark Pandemic Fund Technical Cooperation Agreement for Reducing the Public Health Impact of Pandemics in the Caribbean

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#Trinidad, December 15, 2023 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) held a landmark Public Signing Ceremony for the Pandemic Fund (PF) Technical Cooperation (TC) Agreement (“Reducing the Public Health Impact of Pandemics in the Caribbean through Prevention, Preparedness, and Response” [RG-T4387] Project) on December 14, 2023, at the Scarlet Ibis Room, Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre. The Agreement was signed by Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director, CARPHA and Ms. Carina Cockburn, IDB Country Representative for Trinidad and Tobago.

The Pandemic Fund (PF) is the first multilateral financing mechanism dedicated to providing multiyear grants to help low- and middle-income countries become better prepared for future pandemics. The PF’s first Call for Proposals provides additional financing to strengthen prevention, preparedness and response (PPR) capabilities, and address critical gaps in countries through investments and technical support at the national, regional and global levels. It is also expected to support and reinforce capacity building and implementation of PPR under the IHR (2005) and other frameworks, consistent with the One Health approach. [Pandemic Fund Allocates First Grants to Help Countries Be Better Prepared for Future Pandemics (worldbank.org)]

CARPHA’s regional entity proposal was successfully selected in July 2023 for the first round of PF financing, with CARPHA as the Executing Agency and IDB as the Implementing Entity.  It was one of only 19 proposals selected from over 300 submissions and the only regional project. This regional project, with CARPHA as beneficiary and CARPHA Member States as the participants, serves to support CARPHA in reducing the public health impact of pandemics in the Caribbean region, whilst building pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (PPR) through strengthening i) disease surveillance and early warning systems (EWS), ii) laboratory systems and iii) workforce capacity, regionally at CARPHA and at country levels.  Dr. Lisa Indar, Director, Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control Division is the Project lead at CARPHA and Mr. Ramiro Guerrero, Principal Sector Specialist of IDB Headquarters and Mr. Ian Ho-a-Shu, Senior Health Specialist of IDB Country Office, Trinidad and Tobago, are the leads from the IDB.

In recent years, the Caribbean region has experienced many infectious disease outbreaks, including COVID-19, Cholera, Chikungunya, Dengue, Norovirus, H1N1, Mpox, SARS and Zika, which have had profound human, economic and social impacts. Pandemic PPR needs to be improved not only at the national levels, but at the regional level, as functional regional capacities can achieve the economies of scale and necessary coordination/integration that small territories cannot achieve on their own.

The Agreement signing in December is, as a result of rigorous preparation activities by CARPHA and IDB, culminating with the IDB Board of Directors’ approval in just three months on November 15th, 2023. Remarks for this milestone event were delivered by Mr. Cassanni Laville, Chairman of the CARPHA Executive Board, and Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD), the Honourable Minister of Health, Wellness and Social Services, Dominica, Mr. Terrence Deyalsingh, Honourable Minister of Health, Trinidad and Tobago, Ms. Carina Cockburn, IDB Country Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director, CARPHA, Dr. Lisa Indar, Pandemic Fund Project Director, CARPHA, Dr. Mark Sami, Director, Corporate Services and Dr. Priya Basu, Executive Head of the Pandemic Fund, with Ministers of Health, Chief Medical Officers, the Pandemic Fund Secretariat, CARPHA partners and CARPHA Divisional Management Team in attendance.

In his welcome remarks, Dr. Mark Sami, Director, Corporate Services, CARPHA, stated “The signing of this Pandemic Fund Technical Cooperation Agreement between CARPHA and the IDB represents a great milestone for this Region, as we prepare to successfully respond to public health emergencies”.

Mr. Cassanni Laville, Chairman of CARPHA’s Executive Board and the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD), and Honourable Minister of Health, Wellness and Social Services, Dominica, said “This signing  signifies the start of a new phase for CARPHA, IDB and Member States as it commemorates regional collaboration and partnership as the firm foundation for the successful implementation of the Pandemic Fund grant which will support a significant body of  work over a three-year period, toward the goal of reducing the public health impact of pandemics in the Caribbean region”.

Mr. Terrence Deyalsingh, Honourable Minister of Health, Trinidad and Tobago, stated “We must ensure that decisive plans are laid for future generations, which will assist in the strengthening of capacity to prevent, detect and respond to public health emergencies.  Today’s historic public signing ceremony for the Pandemic Fund Technical Cooperation Agreement, is a major and fundamental step toward the attainment of these goals, as the formalisation of this agreement will allow countries in the Americas to adopt the necessary technological systems needed for emergency and early response warning systems.”

Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director, CARPHA, shared “This signing is solidifying the formal agreement between the IDB and CARPHA, but it is only the start to what this landmark investment can do to foster sustained and effective pandemic preparedness and response in the region.  CARPHA will maintain its proud legacy of implementation through engagement with its key stakeholders in such a way that we build trust within our Member States (MS).  To do this, CARPHA is building a robust monitoring and evaluation framework, enforcing accountability and practicing ethically sound principles in the transparent execution of this project along with our MS and the IDB”.

Dr. Lisa Indar, Director, Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control and Project Lead remarked “This Project is especially needed in the region, as the Caribbean is uniquely characterised by small, under-resourced populations and varying surveillance, laboratory and human resource capacities. It is also highly interconnected with porous borders, heavily reliant on tourism, and susceptible to climatic change and disasters. This combination of factors significantly increases the region’s exposure and vulnerability to pandemic risks, enabling rapid spread of highly transmissible communicable diseases. A regional approach is key, as when a public health emergency affects one of us, it affects all of us, as diseases know no boundaries”.

Ms. Carina Cockburn, IDB Country Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, noted “The IDB Country Strategy for Trinidad & Tobago (2021-2025) focuses on digital transformation, and it is fitting to see that CARPHA has prioritised the use of digital tools and technology in advancing digital health in the region.”  She added, “In a few years we can expect to see some really amazing results from this operation: Laboratory networks will expand; national biosafety, biosecurity, and lab quality management will improve; and workforce capacity will be strengthened.  We also look forward to seeing enhanced national and regional coordination, collaboration and information flow for detecting and managing outbreaks and regional public health emergencies across sectors and borders”.

Dr. Priya Basu, Executive Head of the Pandemic Fund at the World Bank, shared that “The Pandemic Fund is pleased to partner with CARPHA and the Inter-American Development Bank to support this important project, which holds the promise of building the Region’s resilience to future pandemicsToday’s signing marks a crucial step in our shared commitment towards global health security. “

This project is expected to begin implementation in January 2024 kicking off with a CARPHA-IDB mission and the fulfilment of the key positions in the Project Execution Unit.

 CARPHA remains committed to working together with the IDB, CARPHA Member States and the Pandemic Fund to successfully implement the regional proposal geared toward reducing the public health impact of pandemics in the Caribbean.

Captions for Attached Photos:

Header: From Left to Right: Dr. Mark Sami-Corporate Services Director, CARPHA; Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director, CARPHA; Ms. Carina Cockburn-IDB Country Representative for Trinidad and Tobago; The Honourable Minister of Health, Trinidad and Tobago-Mr. Terrence Deyalsingh and Dr. Lisa Indar-Pandemic Fund Project Director and Director, Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control, CARPHA

Insert: 

  1. Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director, CARPHA (Seated Left) and Ms. Carina Cockburn (Seated Right), IDB Country Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, sign the Pandemic Fund Technical Cooperation Agreement while Dr. Lisa Indar and Dr. Mark Sami – CARPHA Directors look on.

 

  1. Minister of Health, Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Terrence Deyalsingh attends (in person) the public signing ceremony of the Pandemic Fund Technical Cooperation Agreement between CARPHA and the IDB at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre

 

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A King and High Level Speakers open SIDS Conference in Antigua & Barbuda

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

#Antigua, May 29, 2024 – The Caribbean Island of Antigua and Barbuda is hosting the fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which seeks to build resilience, and find solutions to the pressing challenges of debt burden, and to achieve sustainable development goals.

Opened on Monday, in St. Johns, under the theme, “Charting the course toward resilient prosperity,” the Conference which run from May 27 to 30, had addresses from 33 countries, where speakers pressed the need for actions on financing for Climate emergency, and crises such as spiraling debt, and health challenges.

Speaking via video link, King Charles III, said island nations are leading the way in confronting Climate Change, protecting biodiversity, and stewarding the global Ocean, while pointing out that there is potential for large investors to contribute to Climate financing, and the benefits of collaboration among SIDS. The King also called for “bold action” and said “your future is our future.”

Host Prime Minister, Gaston Browne told his audience that SIDS face unprecedented global challenges, that they did not create, and “large-scale polluters” bear responsibility for compensation, as he called for ending fossil subsidies.

The Prime Minister also called for   the establishment of the Commission of Small Island States (COSIS) and the recent unanimous advisory opinion from the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), which affirmed the legal duty of state parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to mitigate Climate impacts to protect the marine environment.

In the Caribbean region, PM Browne has been at the forefront of advocacy to develop a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index that truly reflects SIDS needs for development finance, and Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados has spearheaded the Bridgetown Initiative to transform lending and provide inclusive, resilient finance to countries facing Climate crises.

Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Philip Davis urged the SIDS Conference to support a new global tax treaty to be negotiated and for financial flows to be regulated to ease the crippling debt burden impeding many SIDS from fully developing their potential.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General António Guterres aid SIDS stands as a test case for Climate and financial justice, and called on all countries to align with the 1.5°C Climate targets, and for Climate finance to double by 2025, and for significant contributions to the Loss and Damage Fund. “SIDS can make an almighty noise together to deliver meaningful change to benefit the whole of humankind,” he said.

Many SIDS remain dependent on imported fossil fuels, curtailing both their environmental and economic efforts. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), some SIDS would need an investment of around US $5.9 billion annually to achieve their renewable energy targets by 2030 and reduce their fossil-fuel dependency.

The COVID-19 pandemic deepened existing fragilities and triggered the most acute economic contraction across SIDS, increasing their debt burden and depleting resources. Over 40 per cent of SIDS are now on the edge of or are already grappling with unsustainable levels of debt. Between 2000 and 2019, the external debt of SIDS rose by 24 percentage points of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The total public debt for SIDS now stands at approximately US $82 billion dollars.

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CARICOM is Zone of Peace says Mottley

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

 

#Barbados, May 29, 2024 – Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Amor Mottley has called on leaders in the Caribbean to ensure that the region maintains a peaceful zone, as it is stands on the precipice of grave danger if ongoing crises are not handled appropriately.

She said the escalating challenge of gun-related violence in the Caribbean, the political unrest in Haiti, the land dispute in Guyana, and the rising homicide cases across Barbados, require commitment of CARICOM’s leaders to the Caribbean remaining a Zone of Peace, and much more than words.

Addressing the closing ceremony of Tradewinds 24, in St Michael last Friday, she said in a world that is torn in Africa with conflict, torn in Europe with conflict, torn in the Middle East with conflict, “we in the Americas have a solemn obligation to work beyond the call of duty to ensure that we remain a Zone of Peace,” she said.

Further, Miss Mottley said, maintaining peace, requires actions to reflect it, and it  requires being responsible with “our words, such that circumstances do not get out of hand and go beyond our control. It requires equally a recognition that people will understand that this will not result in good for anyone,” she pointed out.

The forum had in attendance, service men and women representing over 26 nations across the Americas and Europe, and the Prime Minister urged the region’s youth to wield tools and weapons with respect, build on potential for positive outcomes.

Miss Mottley also called for a “relook and rethink” of how persons, namely the younger generation are educated about guns, phones and other devices that could be very empowering when used in the best ways for the best outcomes.

Noting that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” she said it is important to instill respect and responsibility in youth, particularly in light of ongoing discussions surrounding cybercrime legislation, wield tools and weapons with respect, highlighting the potential for positive outcomes when utilized responsibly.

Exercise Tradewinds 2024 is a multi-dimensional training exercise hosted by Barbados. It took place from May 4 to 16, 2024. The exercise focused on joint, combined, and interagency training across the ground, air, sea, and cyber domains.

Its primary objectives were to enhance regional cooperation in countering transnational organized crime and to improve capabilities for humanitarian and disaster relief operations.

 

CAPTION:  Prime Minister Mia Mottley was today presented with the World Health Organisation Director-General’s Award for Global Health.  Mottley is one of three people being awarded this year. (Photos by PMO Barbados)

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C&W Business to connect ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Media Hub  

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Official and Exclusive Telecommunications Provider for ICC Men’s T20 World Cup

 

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (May 23rd, 2024) – The upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup will feature a first-of-its-kind remote Media Hub at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in Barbados.

And more than 200 traveling journalists are expected to cover the pinnacle event on the cricketing calendar and they will experience unparalleled connectivity and seamless connections, courtesy of C&W Business.

C&W Communications, the parent company of C&W Business, is the Official and Exclusive Telecommunications Provider in the Caribbean for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.

“This groundbreaking facility will ensure that media professionals have access to high-speed internet and reliable telecommunications services, enabling them to cover the event seamlessly and efficiently,” said Nicolas Collette, Chief Commercial Officer, B2B, C&W Communications.

“We are very proud to be providing these connections through which the stories of this prestigious event will be told around the world. Our company has a long and proud association with cricket in the West Indies and we eagerly look forward to this next chapter.”

The Media Hub will serve as a central location where journalists can view all tournament matches and participate in a full range of in-stadia media activities.

“Our goal is to provide a world-class experience for the world’s press, and we are committed to delivering the best connections over the Caribbean’s best network. Our installation at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre is at an advanced stage and we have overbuilt it with added bandwidth and redundancy,” added Collette.

“This is a great moment for the Caribbean, and we are honored to play our part in welcoming the press and facilitating all their connectivity needs at the first-ever Media Hub for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.”

Part of the Liberty Latin America group of companies, C&W Communications is the leading entertainment and communications provider in the Caribbean with operations in 20 markets with the brands Flow, Flow Business, C&W Business and BTC. The company’s services are underpinned by over 50,000 kilometres of the most modern subsea and terrestrial fibre networks in the region.

Flow has also been announced as the presenting partner for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Volunteer Programme in the Caribbean.

More than nine hundred volunteers from across the West Indies will participate in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Volunteer Programme, which will serve as a cornerstone for supporting various aspects of the tournament including hospitality, logistics, and fan engagement.

As the Presenting Partner for the Volunteer Programme in the Caribbean, Flow will also play a pivotal role in ensuring volunteers are fully prepared to elevate the experience when tens of thousands of fans, media, players, and officials visit the West Indies in June.

The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 blasts off on 1 June with the tournament’s first match featuring USA taking on Canada at the Grand Prairie Cricket Stadium in Dallas, Texas. Full match fixtures are available HERE.

Match tickets, including party-stand tickets for Caribbean fixtures, and hospitality packages are available at tickets.t20worldcup.com. Box offices across the Caribbean are now open and tickets are available for sale there. Locations and operating hours are available HERE.

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