Caribbean: The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission announced that the convening of the 6th Meeting of the OECS Authority, to be held under the Chairmanship of Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica.
AS per the OECS media release, the meeting will be held on Friday 19th March, 2021 and will receive the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and his team.
Director-General of the OECS, Dr. Didacus Jules, is anticipating a productive outcome with the WHO and hopes that this meeting will help bridge the vaccine gap for the OECS Member countries.
“The Special Meeting of the OECS Heads of Govt. with WHO is critical for two main reasons: it will allow the OECS to join with Director-General Tedros in advocating for more equitable access to COVID vaccines & unlocking supplies for developing states. This very Special Session will give the OECS Authority an opportunity to examine approaches to filling the gap between vaccines available through the COVAX Facility and bilateral sources & highlighting the health needs of our Member States. Finding a timely solution is important from a public health standpoint but will also provide the building blocks to resuscitate, repair and rebuild the economies across our region.” OECS said.
Another crucial point for the Authority will be to explore the support of the WHO via the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.
The Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, also the Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr. Joy St. John, will join the conversation to speak to critical public health concerns related to fighting the pandemic.
Ahead of the meeting, Dr. Tedros said, “the several Caribbean States have led the way in protecting their populations from coronavirus with careful implementation of public health actions. I am honoured to work side-by-side with OECS Heads of Govt. in fighting the COVID pandemic; I am committed to securing equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments to support Caribbean communities. Cooperating with partners through the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator and its COVAX Facility, WHO is working to ensure vaccines are distributed as rapidly and equitably as possible, to help bring the pandemic under control in the Caribbean and globally.”
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the WHO has been an invaluable partner to the OECS and to CARICOM, facilitating access to African medical supplies platforms and brokering donations of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to the Caribbean region. Shortly after his appointment to Director-General, Dr. Tedros held a meeting with the Ministers of Health of the OECS in Geneva in 2018 to understand the region’s health sector challenges.
In that likewise year in Grenada, the WHO held the third Global Conference on Climate Change and Health alongside the OECS 5th Council of Health Ministers.