JICA – CARPHA signs agreement for new cooperation against COVID-19

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Left to right: His Excellency Tatsuo Hirayama, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Joy St. John, Executive Director, CARPHA and Dr Mark Sami, Director of Corporate Services, CARPHA.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed an agreement Friday to achieve Caribbean Regional Health Security, through the building of core capacity within CARPHA to prevent, detect, respond to and control infectious disease outbreaks.

Based on the request from CARPHA and the decision of the Government of Japan, JICA, an implementing organisation of Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA), is collaborating on a new technical cooperation project including provision of testing kits and laboratory equipment worth US$1 million. [Today] both parties signed the record of discussions, the official agreement for the cooperation.

On the occasion of the signing ceremony, Hiroyasu Tonokawa, chief representative of JICA Saint Lucia Office mentioned that the Caribbean region is not removed from threats of COVID-19, such as high number of cases, lower vaccination coverage and weak economic recovery. He stated that the project will contribute to strengthening CARPHA’s diagnostic testing capacity, including its ability to adequately report to Member States, thus promoting and enhancing the systems of prevention, detection and response for public health events and events that significantly threaten health security within CARPHA Member States.

Caribbean News Global CARPHA_JICA JICA - CARPHA signs agreement for new cooperation against COVID-19
Terumasa Matsuzaki, Representative, JICA Saint Lucia Office, and Hiroyasu Tonokawa, Chief Representative of JICA Saint Lucia Office.

Under the project Advancing Regional Health Security for Prevention and Control of Outbreaks of Communicable Diseases in the Caribbean, a significant sum will be allocated to the purchase of reagents and supplies for genome sequencing. Additionally, the grant will support the purchase of reagents for regular testing, purchasing of a centrifuge machine and a purification machine. The grant will also support CARPHA’s Laboratory Information System, and training of laboratory staff to keep abreast of advancements in testing techniques and practices.

Dr St John, executive director of CARPHA expressed her gratitude to the government and People of Japan for the continued and considerate support to fight this COVID-19 pandemic. She stated “All of this goes towards the prevention and control of outbreaks of communicable diseases in the Caribbean.

This contribution will enhance the capacity of the CARPHA Medical Microbiology Laboratory and will go a long way towards providing critical and much-needed support to the region, especially now that we are seeing the presence of many variants and increases in cases regionwide. Dr St John also highlighted that CARPHA is currently executing two projects with funding from the government of Japan, while another two were recently concluded, and another one is expected to be signed in the near future.

In his closing remarks, His Excellency Tatsuo Hirayama, ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago stated that the signing will kick start the project in the fight against the pandemic. “The government of Japan and CARPHA have been enjoying great cooperation, and we have to continue our joint efforts and collaboration to deal with the prolonging pandemic.”

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