By Benjamin Flowers
The Caribbean Community Heads of Government have agreed to a regional response to the possible threat of an Ebola virus outbreak in member states.
The CARICOM heads of government met this week in Port-of-Spain Trinidad, and formulated a plan themed “Stop Ebola There and Here.”
The plan called for greater collaboration between all member states in dealing with the regional public health concern, despite the determination that the risks of regional outbreak are low due to low trafficking between infected nations.
The plan included measures such as harmonizing travel restrictions, securing the participation of the region’s airlines in transporting specimens and response teams, and strengthening health systems, including equipment, laboratories and containment, and training.
The leaders also agreed to create a Regional Rapid Response Team (CARIB REACT) that will be able to reach any member state in 24 hours to support the national response team to contain and stop the outbreak early on.
The leaders are also considering “Stop Ebola There and Here (SETH) Fund” to which governments, citizens and businesses here and abroad may donate.
The meeting also placed several responsibilities on the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) including coordinating the region’s response efforts and completing the national assessments in collaborations with the international development parters. CARPHa was also tasked with developing a more comprehensive estimate of the resource requirements of the region to support an enhanced resource mobilization plan.
Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said this week that the regional leaders had also emphasized that the response to the diseases “must be a Community effort” and that “no member state of CARICOM must battle these public health challenges on its own”.
CARICOM leaders also discussed and formulated a plan to address the Chikungunya outbreak, which is prevalent throughout the community.