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CARPHA Strengthens Its COVID-19 Testing Capacity with Japan Donation

CARPHA Strengthens Its COVID-19 Testing Capacity with Japan Donation

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.    Thanks to a bilateral cooperation program, the Japan- CARICOM  Friendship  and  Cooperation  Fund,  the  CARPHA  Medical  Microbiology  Laboratory (CMML) received twenty-three (23) Viral RNA Test Kits valued at US$43,411 which are expected to  conduct  approximately  5,750 tests.  The  laboratory supplies  will  go  a long  way  in  supporting CARPHA’s capacity to test for COVID-19.

In  addition  to  the  support  to  CARPHA,  the  Government  of  Japan  also  provided  the  sum  of US$267,724  from  the  Association  for  Promotion  of  International  Cooperation  (APIC)  for  the purchase of kits to conduct approximately 72,090 tests for Guyana, Jamaica and Suriname.

The donations, made by His Excellency Tatsuo Hirayama, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of  Trinidad  and  Tobago,  were  received  by  the  CARPHA  Executive  Management  Team  at  a ceremony which took place on Tuesday 5th  October, at the Agency’s headquarters located in Port of Spain.

Dr. Lisa Indar, Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control at CARPHA welcomed the delegation, and expressed thanks to the Government of Japan.   Following this, Dr. Mark Sami, Director, Corporate Services, provided a brief presentation on the history of the Government of Japan’s  support  to  CARPHA,  which  includes  four  (4)  active  projects  as  well  as  projects  in  the pipeline.

CARPHA   is   leading   the   regional   health   response   to   COVID-19,   in   keeping   with   its Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) and mandate as a CARICOM institution and recommendations from  the  Council  for  Human  and  Social  Development  (COHSOD)-Health  Working  Group  on Regional Coordination for Response Management.

“CARPHA is pleased to receive these items which will add to our ability to provide support to the Governments and People of the Region in their continued fight against COVID-19,”   Dr. Joy St. John, CARPHA Executive Director said at the handover ceremony.   “We would like to express our gratitude  for  the  continued  and  considerate  support  to  fight  this  COVID-19  pandemic  from  the Government and People of Japan, through the Japan-CARICOM Friendship and Cooperation Fund. This contribution to enhance the testing capacity of the CARPHA Medical Microbiology Laboratory is the latest in a long history of support provided to the Region by the Government and People of Japan.Dr. St. John also expressed her appreciation for the ongoing collaboration between CARPHA and the CARICOM Secretariat and more importantly, for the trust and confidence that the Secretary General of CARICOM, Dr. Carla Barnett – represented by Assistant Secretary General Dr. Douglas Slater – has placed in CARPHA to execute these important projects which bring benefits to the people of the Caribbean.

CARICOM Secretariat’s Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development, Dr Douglas Slater  voiced  gratitude  to  the  government  and  people  of  Japan  for  their  continued  support, cooperation,  and  partnership  with  the  Region.   Dr  Slater,  who  was  speaking  on  behalf  of  the CARICOM Secretary General said “We are focussing today on the handover of the RNA kits to address the challenges we have had with COVID-19.   Due to the impact of this disease on all aspects of our lives, we sincerely appreciate how important this is for us to be best prepared through our lead public health institution CARPHA, to help our Member States manage the process going forward.”

His Excellency Tatsuo Hirayama, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago commended CARPHA stating “I take this opportunity to pay my respect and tribute to the Agency for its essential role in fighting against the Pandemic in this region. His Excellency went on to say that  “Japan  and  CARICOM  have  enjoyed  a  long  and  fruitful  relationship  based  on  our  shared principles and values that include, among others, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Building  on  our  long-standing  cooperative  relations,  it  is  my  utmost  pleasure  to  witness  the procurement of approximately 77,840 PCR test kits utilizing more than US$300,000.  He expressed his hope that the test kits will facilitate CARICOM member countries in conducting necessary tests expeditiously, thus contributing to detecting infections early.

Ms. Aneesa Doodnath-Siboo, Principal Pharmacist, Ministry of Health, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago delivered remarks on behalf of the Honourable Minister of Health Mr. Terrence Deyalsingh. Ms Doodnath-Siboo highlighted the close and beneficial relationship with CARPHA, stating “The value of this affiliation has definitely been made evident by the collaborative approach to the fight against COVID-19.  In closing she said “RNA extraction is the first step of the PCR testing process. Thus,  I  cannot  stress  enough  the  importance  of  these  contributions  towards  the  COVID-19 management programme for the Caribbean community.  This significant donation will ensure the receipt of quality and equitable test results from COVID-19 testing facilities and utilise the latest technology for COVID-19 diagnosis

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), acting through the Caribbean Community Secretariat, and CARPHA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to Support CARPHA Member States in managing and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded by the Government and people of Japan, through the Japan-CARICOM Friendship and Cooperation Fund, this project is aimed at strengthening the capacity of CARPHA’s Medical Microbiology Laboratory to undertake additional testing on behalf of its Member States.

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