Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) in the Caribbean meet in Saint Lucia next week

ST. LUCIA – When Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) within the Caribbean Region come together next week, in Castries, Saint Lucia for their Seventeenth Annual Meeting, the status of the proposed Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) will be one of the main items for discussion on a packed agenda.

CARPHA is the new regional body that has been endorsed by CARICOM Heads of Government to bring under a single governance structure, the five Regional Health Institutions (RHIs) in order to provide comprehensive oversight for the management of the Community’s public health programme. All five RHIs – the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC), the Caribbean Environment Health Institute (CEHI), the Caribbean Health Research Council (CHRC), the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI), and the Caribbean Regional Drug Testing Laboratory (CRDTL) – will function under the umbrella of one legal entity – CARPHA – with an overall strategic plan, one management structure and one overall resource mobilisation plan.

At this two-day meeting which opens on Monday, 20 April, CMOs will receive and discuss an update on the progress made in the last six months in the development of CARPHA, which is moving full speed ahead. The update will focus on the structure, functions and location of this proposed new regional public health agency which is expected to be fully functional by 2010.

Also key among the raft of issues on the meeting’s agenda is the third phase of the Caribbean Cooperation on Health Initiative (CCHIII) that sets the regional strategic framework for cooperation among CARICOM Member States in regional health care and development. In addition to identifying priority issues for cooperation, the meeting will seek endorsement for projects identified as suitable to benefit health and health care improvement region wide.

Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCDs) which is a major concern of CARICOM governments will also be high on the CMOs’ slate. A progress report on the implementation of the strategies identified by Heads of Government for control of NCDs will be reviewed, as well as an update of the implementation of the International Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Member States.

The strengthening of leadership training in public health will also come up for mention and discussion will focus primarily on the development of the post graduate degree programmes in public health at the University of the West Indies.

In addition, the Meeting will examine, among other issues, the strategic goal for the elimination of vertical transmission of HIV and congenital syphilis, and the Regional Framework on Early Childhood Development.

The Seventeenth Meeting of the Chief Medical Officers will end on Tuesday following a workshop designed to assist CMOs in translating research into policy.

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