(LOOP NEWS CARIBBEAN) – More assistance is on the way for Caribbean countries fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) will receive a contribution of US $3.8 million from the United Kingdom to help eight countries of the Caribbean contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and mitigate its impact.
The countries include Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
PAHO in a statement says the financial contribution from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) is in addition to the US $9.9 million already provided by the UK Government via the World Health Organization (WHO) allocations to support PAHO’s response strategy to COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean as outlined in its Donor Appeal.
The funds from DFID will assist Caribbean countries to access critical medical equipment and other urgent supplies for the immediate health response to COVID-19.
PAHO states the objective of the six-month project is to help save lives and reduce human-to-human transmission of the virus, including secondary infections in healthcare settings, through re-organisation of health services and the implementation of Infection Prevention and Control measures.
It also aims to ensure early detection of COVID-19 cases by strengthening existing surveillance systems and scaling up laboratory capacity.
Part of the strategy will also improve the communication of clear and transparent public health information about risks and protective measures to populations on the islands.
PAHO Director Dr Carissa Etienne said: “PAHO very much appreciates the strong partnership and long-standing support of the Government of the United Kingdom. We are grateful to UK DFID for helping Caribbean small island developing states combat the serious COVID-19 pandemic and address the unique challenges they are facing.”
Stefan Kossoff, Country Director for the UK DFID in the Caribbean said: “In addition to our multi-million commitment for the development of a possible vaccine, this direct regional support will help Caribbean countries to cope with the coronavirus crisis, boost their healthcare efforts and protect the most vulnerable. The UK stands with the people of the Caribbean in these difficult times.”
The donation from the UK Government will also contribute to the UN’s Multi-Sectoral Response Plan for the Eastern Caribbean which was launched on April 30.
It aims to support countries in the Eastern Caribbean to scale-up their respective national actions to respond to COVID-19 through a multi-dimensional approach.
With these funds, PAHO says it will support a coherent public health response that addresses the most pressing needs of the benefitting countries and ensure strong coordination and management as well as information sharing arrangements with other UN and regional/bilateral agencies to maximize impact and eliminate potential duplication.