CASTRIES, St Lucia, (OECS) — The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission announces 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.
The meeting will be held on Friday, March 19, 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 OECS Member States.
“The special meeting of the OECS heads of government 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 vaccines and unlocking supplies for developing states. This Special Session will give the OECS Authority an opportunity to explore approaches to filling the gap between vaccines accessible through the COVAX Facility and bilateral sources, and highlighting the health needs of our Member States. Finding a timely solution is critical from a public health standpoint but will also provide the building blocks to resuscitate, repair and rebuild the economies across our region.”
Another key point for the Authority will be to explore the support of the WHO through the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.
The Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) director, Dr Carissa Etienne, as well as the executive director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Dr Joy St John, will join the discussion to speak to critical public health concerns related to combat the pandemic.
Ahead of the meeting, Dr Tedros said: “Many Caribbean States have led the way in protecting their populations from COVID-19 with careful implementation of public health measures. I am honoured to work side by side with OECS heads of government in fighting the pandemic and am committed to ensuring equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and treatments to support Caribbean communities. Collaborating 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 COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO has been an invaluable partner to the OECS and 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 the director-general, Dr Tedros held a meeting with the ministers of health of the OECS in Geneva in 2018 to understand the health sector challenges of the region. In that same year in Grenada, the WHO held the 3rd Global Conference on Climate Change and Health alongside the OECS 5th Council of health ministers.