On 15 February 2021, an IDB-Japanese delegation comprising His Excellency Tatsuo Hirayama, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Ms. Rocío Medina-Bolívar, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Trinidad and Tobago Country Representative, and Mr. Ian Ho-A-Shu, Senior Health Specialist, IDB met with the executive management of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to discuss CARPHA’s Coordinated Regional Response against COVID-19. The meeting also highlighted the progress of work supported by Japanese- IDB funding.
In May 2020, the IDB approved a US$750,000 (TT$5.1 million) grant to support CARPHA in the coordination of the regional health response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The grant is financed by the IDB Japan Special Fund which was first established in 1988 by the Government of Japan to foster social and economic growth throughout the IDB’s borrowing member countries.
Dr. Lisa Indar, Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control at CARPHA welcomed the delegation and stated the grant came at a critical time, when the COVID-19 virus was rapidly spreading in the Caribbean region, threatening the capability of national health systems. There was also a growing demand for CARPHA’s laboratory to increase testing of samples and capacity for disease surveillance. Dr. Indar expressed thanks to the Government of Japan, and the IDB stating that “through the grant, CARPHA’s laboratory capacity has been strengthened to meet the additional COVID-19 specimen testing demands of its Member States. The grant also expanded CARPHA’s Regional Tourism and Travelers Health Program via the Healthier, Safer Tourism (HST) Stamp and the Caribbean Travelers Health App.
“The IDB and Japan have been long-standing supporters and friends of CARPHA. We have worked together over the years to protect and promote the health and wellness of Caribbean people, including IHR, tourism and health and NCDs. In the spirit of this partnership and at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Caribbean, the grant was established to strengthen the CARPHA’s coordination of the Caribbean regional response to COVID-19,” said Dr. Joy St. John, the Executive Director of CARPHA in her opening remarks to the delegation.
“We are grateful for this opportunity to get an update of the assistance provided through the IDB. This is one of our first assistance projects provided to this region with regards to COVID-19 last year. We look forward to hearing how the project is going and how our assistance is contributing to this Region. We are in discussion with CARPHA about the possibility of technical cooperation that will include procurement of medical equipment. Any assistance to this regional agency will be beneficial to all Member countries, “His Excellency Tatsuo Hirayama, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
“It is my pleasure to be here today because CARPHA and the IDB continue to share a deep partnership in addressing public health events in the Caribbean,” said Ms. Rocío Medina-Bolívar, IDB Trinidad and Tobago Country Representative. “The outputs of the grant will provide the participating countries and the wider Caribbean with relevant and useful tools to address future public health emergencies. In addition, the project has already successfully built on the interactive and fluid collaborative mechanism and networks that CARPHA has so skilfully developed over the years with participating countries to continue to work together to address the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The CARPHA Executive Management team presented an update on the CARPHA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, IDB/JSF funding; activities proposed/being done under the Japanese-funded COVID-19 Technical Cooperation. Following the presentations, the IDB-Japan delegation was given a short tour of the CARPHA laboratory.
About the grant
The grant supports CARPHA to work with Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago in enhancing their COVID-19 detection abilities, mobilize surge response capacity and strengthen real-time disease surveillance and response. This will be done over a two-year period until May 2022.