Caribbean Public Health Agency Opens in January 2013


The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) will be finally official starting January 1, 2013, after being agreed upon in 2009. The intergovernmental agency has been created to improve the region’s response to public health emergencies and “to public health and safety of the Caribbean people and those who visit the Caribbean for business and vacation,” according to Executive Chairman of CARPHA and Jamaican Health Minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson. The five regional institutions brought under CARPHA are Jamaica’s Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute, St. Lucia’s Caribbean Environmental Health Institute, and Trinidad and Tobago’s Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC), Caribbean Regional Drug Testing Laboratory, and Caribbean Health Research Council.

Addressing the opening of CARPHA’s sixth executive board meeting, at Capital Plaza, Port-of- Spain yesterday Ferguson said the pros and cons of establishing CARPHA were explored by experts and consultation took place with ministry officials, academia, business sector, international consultations. He said, “notwithstanding disagreements, over the details the overwhelming burden of opinion resulting from this activity process led to a considered decision by the Caricom heads of government in 2009 that for the consolidation of five regional health institutions into one agency was our most effective option.”
[. . .] Ferguson said the integration of the functions and staff would be done on a phased basis and he said Caricom heads unanimously concluded that in the current economic times streamlining of institutions was key to success and sustainability for the regional body. [. . .]

Ferguson said the new CARPHA executive director would have to pay urgent attention to the countries which have not signed on to CARPHA. He said a work plan had to be developed and relevant documents circulated early. Ferguson said whatever difference existed on specific areas, agreement was needed on the priority areas central to CARPHA such as its research agenda. Ferguson said members should keep in mind that CARPHA was “essentially a one stop shop” which the tourism, hospitality, food and beverage and pharmaceutical industries would interact for quality assurance, and highest standards for public health.

In his address Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said he presented the vision of “CARPHA” to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar who gave a commitment to assist Caricom. He said land was identified in Caura Valley for the CARPHA headquarters and the National Public Health lab. The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) is providing the design consultants for the facility. In an interview with media Khan said he has asked Cabinet for TT to pay for construction of the CARPHA facility and TT could collect the subvention from the other countries afterwards. [. . .]

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