Digicel – OECS supports regional public health care systems

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CASTRIES, St Lucia – Public health care systems in the Eastern Caribbean will soon be receiving supplies of personal protective equipment (PPEs) from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission. Telecommunications company Digicel donated USD$100, 000 to the OECS Commission to procure much-needed PPEs in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost 60,000 masks have arrived in the region and will be distributed to Member States according to population size. The OECS  has expanded its pooled procurement beyond the existing Pharmaceutical Procurement Service (PPS) to better respond to emergencies, disasters and to pool procurement for other social services, including education supplies.

The Kn95s and the 3-ply protective masks are the result of the OECS Commission ’private sector partnership against COVID-19. It has not been the practice in the realm of development funding to involve the private sector as discussion usually happens with development partners and the public sector. This partnership was developed as part of a wider, deliberate strategy to engage the private sector in the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals. With the onslaught of COVID-19, the Commission had to accelerate its plans. This was done under the banner “Engaging the Region’s Private Sector in the Fight Against COVID-19.” A clarion call was sounded and Digicel was one of the first companies to answer.

Head of the development cooperation and resource mobilisation unit, Lisa Taylor-Stone said the Commission is pleased to partner with the telecommunications company.

“We sent a call to the private sector highlighting the current situation in the Eastern Caribbean, what the likely impact of COVID-19 would be on both a health front and an economic front. Digicel answered almost immediately and has proved to be a stellar partner to the Commission.”

Digicel gave a US$140,000 cash donation – earmarking US$100,000 to health for PPEs and US$40,000 to education to close the digital divide. Additionally, Digicel’s brand ethos as a business committed to building and strengthening the economic, social and environmental resilience of the Eastern Caribbean was on display. Digicel facilitated connecting the Commission with one of the top hospitals in Ireland with a very sophisticated procurement team and procurement platform. This expanded the Commission’s options and diversified the organisation’s suppliers’ portfolio.

Digicel is poised to be an invaluable development partner, coming on board with the Commission’s inaugural Sustainable Development Movement (SDM). The SDM is timely and relevant. A pandemic is a Sustainable Development issue and exacerbates the ongoing economic crisis in the Eastern Caribbean.

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