Caribbean countries stand to benefit from a CN$7.5-million (US$5.3 million) million donation from the Government of Canada, through the Pan American Health Organization, to boost the region’s COVID-19 response.
In a release issued Thursday, June 11, the Canadian Government said the contribution will benefit a total of fifteen Caribbean countries — Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago; and eight countries in Central and South America — Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Paraguay.
According to Canada’s Minister of International Development Karina Gould, “The COVID-19 virus knows no borders and cooperation with international partners such as PAHO has been key to fighting this global pandemic and minimising its impact on health systems. Canada recognises the essential role that PAHO plays in responding to health challenges and emergencies in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
In effect, the North American country’s collaboration with PAHO will primarily support increased access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical supplies to assist countries in their efforts to save lives and limit the human-to-human transmission of the COVID-19 diseases, focusing on populations experiencing marginalisation or vulnerability, including health care workers.
In response to the donation, PAHO Director Carissa F Etienne said, “We are grateful to the Government of Canada for its contribution to the Pan American response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the region. This outbreak has caused large upheavals in the health systems of our region, and our countries need all the support they can get. Canadian backing for health protection measures in the Caribbean, Central and South America will help their health workers deal more effectively with these challenges.”
Already, the Canadian Government has donated CN$1.5 million, in response to PAHO donor appeal in March, to support the Caribbean’s overall response to COVID-19.
When PAHO made the appeal in March this year, the institution had hoped to raise US$94.8 million to support and scale-up COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts in the Americas for the next six months.
To date, the specialised health agency in the Americas and the regional office of the World Health Organization has received US$52.7 million for urgent preparedness and response activities in response to COVID-19, including US$23.2 million channelled through the WHO and US$29.5 million directly to PAHO.
“In the spirit of the ongoing collaboration with the Canadian government, Dr Etienne and Minister Gould met today (June 11) to further discuss how to address the immediate needs and impact of the pandemic in the region of the Americas,” a release from the PAHO stated.
The regional institution provides critical leadership, coordination and assistance to fight the spread of COVID-19, save lives, and protect the most vulnerable peoples in all 52 countries and territories of the Americas.