One top official of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is lauding efforts by Barbados and other Caribbean leaders to ensure strict measures are in place to guard against the deadly Covid-19 virus, which continues to spread in China where it orignated.
At the same time, Executive Director of the CARPHA Dr Joy St John told Barbados TODAY she was pleased with steps being taken to tackle the long-standing issues leading to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and heart attacks.
Speaking during the opening of the 31st CARICOM Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government in Barbados on Tuesday, she gave the assurance that the Covid virus had not yet reached the Caribbean. Dr St John said the measures in place were quite extensive and CARPHA would be working closely with countries to have a protocol in place.
“In terms of that treatment protocol, CARPHA will be convening a group of technical experts who will give guidance, and we are taking members of our member states so we can have a practical ‘Caribbeanised’ version of the generic protocols that were put out by the World Health Organisation (WHO),” she said.
According to St John, the issue of “fake news” remained a concern for CARPHA. She said it was proposed by the ministers of health in CARICOM that her association produce “a Covid communications plan”, which she said was now being developed.
“Another important collaboration has been with the tourism sector,” she added.
St John said she did not think any of the measures being implemented by Caribbean states were too stringent, adding that they were following guidelines and “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
During day one of the two-day CARICOM Inter-sessional Meeting, health featured heavily, with medical officials presenting a draft protocol for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack).
Dr St John said the number of deaths annually in the region caused by this life threatening condition was simply “too high”, adding that she was hoping the protocol would be accepted.
“CARPHA will be working along with CARICOM and the specialists,” she said, adding that a lot of joint work was also ongoing in relation to measures to prevent NCDs.
She explained that a number of technical intergovernmental working groups were set up in countries to address “the causes of NCDs”.
Noting that Barbados had done a lot of work in tackling NCDs in recent times, St John said the ramped up campaign to tax sugar-sweetened beverages and encourage children to consume them less was welcomed.
“I hope that it will spread to many more countries and it will be sustained. That is just one of a suite of measures that we think will make a difference and try and stem the tidal wave of NCDs, especially how it is impacting younger persons. These kinds of strong measures are what are required to make sure that people survive to adulthood and are productive throughout their working life,” she said.