PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – This year, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) observes its 10-year anniversary.
CARPHA became the new single regional public health agency for the Caribbean when it was legally established in July 2011. However, the Agency began its operations in 2013, after an Intergovernmental Agreement was signed by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States.
Caribbean Public Health Day celebrated on July 2 every year, coincides with the anniversary of the legal establishment of CARPHA. This special day was established to increase awareness of the field of public health and to highlight how CARPHA’s work affects the everyday lives of Caribbean people.
“We were established to be the guardian of the Caribbean Community’s public health. Much was expected of us for the privilege of that position of trust. I am so proud that ten years later, CARPHA is still here and still serving our member states. For Caribbean Public Health Day, we want to take this time to reflect on all we have learnt. It is wonderful that there are achievements that have been recognised. More importantly, CARPHA has found many ways to add value in Caribbean public health and health security. We are determined to ensure the public health good of all Caribbean people,” stated CARPHA’s executive director, Dr Joy St John.
CARPHA is an avenue by which the health of our people may be advanced. In accordance with the principle that the health of the region is the wealth of the region, it is an agency that stands at the cusp of this region’s development possibilities by providing epidemic protection, laboratory networking and leadership in effective public health interventions.
Among the significant achievements of the Agency, the most recent is the leadership role in the public health emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In recognition of this work, CARPHA received a humanitarian work award from the government of the Republic of Barbados.
As part of CARPHA’s support to member states in responding to the growing challenges of vector-borne diseases, a new and innovative mobile app called Zap-a-‘quito, short for Zap a mosquito was launched.
The Tourism and Health Programme was established to strengthen national capacity to detect and quickly respond to health threats and to build capacity for food safety and environmental management in the industry.
CARPHA plays a leadership role in advancing and strengthening partnerships to support regional health security, and was the chair of Global Health Security Agenda Action Package for Biosafety and Biosecurity for the period 2020 to 2021.
Our investments in partnerships have had an impact on many public health areas. Many agreements have been signed over the years with regional and international public health organisations to:
Improve regional health security;
Strengthen human resource capacity in food and nutrition security;
Support and improve access to quality-assured medicines;
Improve healthy safer tourism in the region;
Combat infectious disease threats, and non-communicable diseases.
CARPHA serves as an IARC Regional Hub for Cancer Registration for the Caribbean. This Hub seeks to strengthen cancer surveillance and cancer control in the region. Through its Information Technology Services (ITS) department, CARPHA has implemented Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) in member states. This application supports countries’ capacity to effectively manage the flow of samples and associated data to improve laboratory efficiency.
The Agency has an important role as the regional focal point for research on health. The Health Research Conference hosted annually by CARPHA, is the largest health research conference in the English-speaking Caribbean. The Conference is an international scientific meeting at which research conducted in the Caribbean, or which has relevance to its people, is presented. The goal of the Conference is to facilitate and promote communication and sharing of scientific outputs among health scientists, policymakers, and related professionals in the wider Caribbean region.
Additionally, CARPHA supported member states by regularly enhancing the skills of regional communications and health promotion specialists through training activities in areas related to risk communication and community engagement.
In more recent times, the Agency has launched an online Regional Food Security and Nutrition Surveillance Course; a Diabetes Nutritional Management Toolkit; Caribbean Wellness Day, Caribbean Mosquito Awareness and COVID-19 and Vaccination Communication Toolkits; Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) hospitality, tourism operational standards. CARPHA with responsibility for monitoring the CCH IV framework, has produced two (2) Caribbean Cooperation in Health-IV reports 2020 and 2021 – charting the progress towards the achievements of the Regional Public Goods (RPGs).
Moving forward, CARPHA will continue to support its member states to prevent disease, promote health and wellness through leadership, partnership, and innovation in public health.