Carpha and IDB sign Pandemic Fund agreement

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr Joy St John –

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) signed a technical co-operation agreement for the Pandemic Fund dedicated to helping low- and middle-income countries become better prepared for future pandemics.

A Carpha statement last Thursday said its executive director Dr Joy St John and the IDB’s country representative for TT Carina Cockburn signed the Pandemic Fund Technical Co-operation Agreement at the Scarlet ibis Room, Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre earlier that day.

The Pandemic Fund was established in 2022 and was formally launched under Indonesia’s G20 presidency at the G20 meetings in Bali in November 2022. The fund has a governing board, which, in July, approved grants in 37 countries across six regions, the statement said.

The G20 or Group of 20 is a forum made up of government representatives from 19 sovereign countries, the European Union, and the African Union. Its website says, “It plays an important role in shaping and strengthening global architecture and governance on all major international economic issues.”

Hosted by the World Bank, the Pandemic Fund, “finances critical investments to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response capacities at national, regional, and global levels, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries,” its website said.

It said the devastating social and economic cost of the covid19 pandemic highlighted the “urgent need for co-ordinated action to build stronger health systems and mobilise additional resources for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.”

A July 2023 statement said the fund raised $2 billion in seed capital from 25 sovereign and philanthropic contributors.

In May this year, the fund closed its first call for proposals and received 179 applications from 133 countries. There were single-country proposals and multi-country proposals.

The multi-country proposal of which TT is apart – along with ten other Caribbean countries – is seeking to reduce “the public health impact of pandemics through strengthened integrated early warning surveillance, laboratory systems, and workforce development.”

On Thursday, Carpha said the Caribbean had experienced many infectious disease outbreaks in recent years, including covid19, cholera, chikungunya, dengue, norovirus, H1N1, monkey pox, sars and zika.

It said pandemic prevention, preparedness and response needed to be improved not only at a national level but also at a regional one, “as functional regional capacities can achieve the economies of scale and necessary co-ordination/integration that small territories cannot achieve on their own.”

It said chairman of Carpha’s executive board and Dominica’s Minister of Health, Wellness and Social Services Cassanni Laville delivered remarks with Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, Pandemic Fund project director Dr Lisa Indar and executive head of the Pandemic Fund Dr Priya Basu in attendance among others.

Deyalsingh was quoted in the statement as saying, “We must ensure that decisive plans are laid for future generations, which will assist in the strengthening of capacity to prevent, detect and respond to public health emergencies.

“Today’s historic public signing ceremony for the Pandemic Fund Technical Co-operation Agreement, is a major and fundamental step toward the attainment of these goals, as the formalisation of this agreement will allow countries in the Americas to adopt the necessary technological systems needed for emergency and early response warning systems.”