July 19, 2013

New public health agency launched in region

An agency which brings together five public health agencies in the Caribbean has been officially launched. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) was officially launched on July 2, 2013,{{more}} at a ceremony which was held at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

This country was represented at the ceremony by Luis de Shong, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment.

CARPHA is the new regional public health agency for the Caribbean. It was legally established in July 2011 by an Inter-Governmental Agreement signed by Heads of Caribbean Community member states and began operation in January 2013.

The Agency rationalises public health arrangements in the region by combining the functions of five Caribbean regional health institutions into one single agency.

They are: the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI), the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC), the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI), the Caribbean Health Research Council (CHRC) and the Caribbean Regional Drug Testing Laboratory (CRDTL).

CARPHA brings these regional health institutions together as one strong force under a public health umbrella, where issues requiring a regional response can be addressed.

These include: emergency responses to disasters; surveillance, prevention and management of non-communicable diseases that have reached epidemic proportions, such as obesity, cancers, heart disease and diabetes; surveillance and management of communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS, re-emerging diseases such as Tuberculosis in association with HIV/AIDS, and new communicable diseases which are now endemic in the region; surveillance and prevention of injuries, violence and job related illnesses; contribution to global health agreements and compliance with international health regulations.

The Agency is the Caribbean region’s collective response to strengthening and reorienting its health system approach so that it is equipped to address the changing nature of public health challenges. The approach is people-centred and evidence-informed. In this regard, CARPHA is well poised to become a recognised player, not just in the region, but in public health, globally.