Caribbean Set to Revolutionize Pandemic Preparedness with Major International Partnership

(Front Row L-R) Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director, CARPHA and Ms. Carina Cockburn, IDB Country Representative for Trinidad and Tobago (Back Row L-R) Dr. Priya Basu, Executive Head of the Pandemic Fund, Mr. Cassanni Laville, Chairman of CARPHA Executive Board

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) recently celebrated a significant milestone with the Public Signing Ceremony for the Pandemic Fund (PF) Technical Cooperation Agreement. This event, held on December 14, 2023, at the Scarlet Ibis Room, Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, marks a crucial step in enhancing pandemic preparedness in the Caribbean.

Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director of CARPHA, and Ms. Carina Cockburn, IDB Country Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, officiated the signing. The Pandemic Fund, a first-of-its-kind multilateral financing mechanism, offers multiyear grants to aid low- and middle-income countries in improving their readiness for future pandemics. CARPHA’s proposal, focusing on prevention, preparedness, and response (PPR), was among 19 selected from over 300 submissions for the first round of PF financing, making it the sole regional project.

This project, with CARPHA as the executing agency and IDB as the implementing entity, aims to bolster disease surveillance, laboratory systems, and workforce capacity both regionally and in individual CARPHA Member States. The Caribbean, having faced numerous infectious disease outbreaks, recognizes the need for improved pandemic PPR at both national and regional levels. This approach is vital given the small, interconnected territories in the region, which are particularly vulnerable to rapid disease spread.

Distinguished guests at the ceremony included Mr. Cassanni Laville, Chairman of CARPHA Executive Board; Mr. Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health of Trinidad and Tobago; and Dr. Priya Basu, Executive Head of the Pandemic Fund. They highlighted the importance of this agreement in building regional resilience to pandemics and emphasized the need for robust monitoring, evaluation frameworks, and technological advancements in health.

The project, set to commence in January 2024, will focus on enhancing laboratory networks, improving biosafety and lab quality management, and strengthening workforce capacity. It also aims to foster better coordination and information flow for outbreak detection and management across the region.

This agreement represents a significant investment in the Caribbean’s health infrastructure, promising to build a stronger, more prepared region in the face of future public health emergencies.

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