PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Agence Française de Développement (the French Development Agency or AFD) signed an agreement on Monday, January 24, 2022, to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the 26 CARPHA Member States by improving the resilience of health systems in the region.
In many emerging countries, the COVID-19 pandemic has particularly affected the health, education and economic sectors, which are fundamental pillars of development. This crisis has highlighted the critical role of digital services to allow people to stay connected with their public health partners, educational institutions and essential businesses.
In consultation with the Organisation of African, Pacific and Caribbean States (OACPS), the European Union (EU) is funding the DIRECCT (DIgital REsponse Connecting CiTizens) programme in more than 55 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in the health, education and small business sectors to enable them to cope with current and future shocks. The €15.4 million programme is mainly implemented by the AFD in coordination with the Belgian development agency, Enabel.
CARPHA has received nine hundred thousand Euros (EUR 900.000) under the DIRECCT programme to implement the project Improving Digital Integrated Public Health Surveillance in the Caribbean. This investment in the health security of the Caribbean region will focus on integrating real-time digital surveillance systems to enhance risk assessment, monitoring, prevention and control of established infectious diseases and new and emerging public health threats by CARPHA and CARPHA Member States.
Dr Joy St John, executive director of CARPHA expressed her gratitude to the OACPS, the EU and the AFD, for their support for strengthening public health digital systems in the Caribbean region.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the urgent need for real-time availability and accessibility of public health surveillance data by ministries of health to inform public health policy and interventions that are responsive to the situation on the ground. It is imperative that recommendations for the protection of Caribbean lives and livelihoods are informed by the best and most up-to-date available evidence in the face of crises like COVID-19.”
DIRECCT projects aim to improve access to digital infrastructure by increasing connectivity, support the development of sector-specific digital services (education, health and business) according to their particular needs and then train people to use them. In the health sector, the main objective is to enable public bodies to quickly collect reliable data on the status of the current pandemic and possible future health crises, which are essential tools for institutions to provide immediate and relevant responses.