The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a grant in the amount US$750,000 (TT$5.1 million) to support the Caribbean Public Health Agency’s (CARPHA) coordination of the regional health response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The IDB has financed the grant through the Japan Special Fund, which was initiated in 1988 by the Government of Japan to foster social and economic growth throughout the IDB’s borrowing member countries. As of April 2020, Japan has already committed more than US$230 million to this fund.
“Coordination is of utmost importance in this fight against the spread of COVID-19 and CARPHA continues to play a critical role in keeping with their intergovernmental mandate from CARICOM ,” Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Tatsuo Hirayama remarked.
“What is a threat to one country in the Caribbean is a threat to all,” he added.
The grant will enhance CARPHA’s work with Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago as they seek to improve enhance their COVID-19 detection capabilities, mobilise surge response capacity and strengthen real-time disease surveillance and response over the next two years.
CARPHA will also use a portion of the grant to boost its laboratory capacity to meet the additional COVID-19 specimen-testing demands from its 26 member states.
“These interventions will translate into CARPHA maintaining efficient turn-around times for sample testing on a 24/7 basis, the establishment and training of rapid response teams, expansion of their Regional Tourism and Travelers Health Program, creation of a Caribbean travel health app, and strengthening human resource capacity,” IDB pointed out in a press release.
In terms of responding to the health priorities of the Caribbean, the IDB has worked with CARPHA in the past and most recently supported the expansion of CARPHA’s regional tourism health information, surveillance and monitoring and response system. Similar to that intervention, the IDB team in Trinidad and Tobago will collaborate with CARPHA to achieve the different components of this grant and, furthermore, enhance the Caribbean’s regional health response to the pandemic.
“COVID-19 has upended countries across the world, many lives have unfortunately been lost already and the pandemic is significantly challenging Caribbean economies ,” said Rocío Medina-Bolívar, IDB Group Country Representative for Trinidad and Tobago.
“This grant is directly aligned with the IDB Group’s COVID-19 response and is one of many measures we have taken to support Governments and safeguard citizens across our borrowing member countries in the Caribbean.”