Castries, Saint Lucia, Sunday November 14, 2021: Saint Lucia and other small Caribbean island-states are to benefit from Japan’s latest contribution to securing health for all Caribbean people.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed an agreement last week to achieve Caribbean Regional Health Security through building core capacity within CARPHA to prevent, detect, respond to and control infectious disease outbreaks.
Based on the request from CARPHA and the decision of the Government of Japan, JICA — the implementing organisation of Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) — is collaborating on a new technical cooperation project that includes the provision of testing kits and laboratory equipment worth one million US dollars.
Both parties signed the official agreement on November 10.
At the signing ceremony, Mr. Hiroyasu Tonokawa, Chief Representative of JICA’s Saint Lucia Office, mentioned that “the Caribbean region is not removed from threats of COVID-19, such as high number of cases, lower vaccination coverage and weak economic recovery.”
He stated that the project “will contribute to strengthening CARPHA’s diagnostic testing capacity, including its ability to adequately report to Member States, thus promoting and enhancing the systems of prevention, detection and response for public health events and events that significantly threaten health security within CARPHA Member States.”
Under the project Advancing Regional Health Security for Prevention and Control of Outbreaks of Communicable Diseases in the Caribbean, a significant sum will be allocated to the purchase of reagents and supplies for genome sequencing.
Additionally, the grant will support the purchase of reagents for regular testing, purchasing of a centrifuge machine and a purification machine.
The grant will also support CARPHA’s Laboratory Information System and training of laboratory staff to keep abreast of advancements in testing techniques and practices.
Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director of CARPHA, expressed her gratitude to the Government and People of Japan for the continued and considerate support to fight this COVID-19 pandemic.
She said, “All of this goes towards the prevention and control of outbreaks of communicable diseases in the Caribbean.”
She also said it “will enhance the capacity of the CARPHA Medical Microbiology Laboratory and will go a long way towards providing critical and much-needed support to the Region, especially now that we are seeing the presence of many variants and increases in cases regionwide.”
Dr. St. John highlighted that CARPHA is currently executing two projects with funding from the Government of Japan, while another two were recently concluded and another one is expected to be signed in the near future.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Tatsuo Hirayama, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, stated that the signing will kick-start the project in the fight against the pandemic.
He said, “The Government of Japan and CARPHA have been enjoying great cooperation, and we have to continue our joint efforts and collaboration to deal with the prolonging pandemic.”
JICA, which has an office here at Rodney Bay, is the primary Japanese governmental agency responsible for Japan’s bilateral ODA.
It engages in assisting economic and social growth in 150 developing countries and the promotion of international cooperation.
JICA has 96 overseas offices worldwide and about 2,000 permanent staff.