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By Timothy Austin- Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, Director, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), revealed recently that an agreement between the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and PAHO on supporting routine vaccinations for Caribbean countries was imminent.
“This is an important agreement given that we are at great risk of the re-emergence of diseases which had already been eliminated from our Region, such as polio”, stated the PAHO Director during his address at the Twenty-Ninth Special Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) – Health, 26 April, in Nassau, The Bahamas.
He noted that PAHO has collaborated with Caribbean countries over the years to eradicate smallpox and polio and end endemic transmission of measles, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome, and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
He made specific reference to PAHO’s close collaboration with CARPHA.
“Through this new agreement, the refunds from COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) will be used by PAHO to support routine vaccinations for our Member States in the Caribbean”, stated Dr. Barbosa. “We look forward to continuing successful implementation of this important initiative with CARPHA,” he added.
According to PAHO, “Almost one in ten children under one year (more than 11,000) in the Caribbean do not receive all of their routine vaccination doses, leaving them susceptible to diseases such as polio, tetanus, measles and diphtheria”.
In response, Caribbean Ministers of Health have agreed on the Declaration of Nassau: Reinvigorating the National Immunization Programs of the Caribbean. The Declaration proposes to strengthen national immunisation programmes using evidence-informed interventions, including prioritising immunity gaps among children, older persons, pregnant women, persons with pre-existing conditions, health workers and those living in situations of vulnerability.
The PAHO-CARPHA agreement will provide critical support for implementing initiatives outlined in the Declaration. (CARICOM Today)