(PRESS RELEASE) – The COVID-19 pandemic threatens the sustainability of social and economic systems within the OECS, impacting the lives of approximately 1.4 million inhabitants.
Recognizing these daunting circumstances and its mandate to support OECS governments and citizens, the OECS Commission has charted a robust response mechanism to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the OECS. This mechanism includes, in large measure, a private sector engagement strategy to strengthen the OECS’ response.
Leading regional supermarket chain, Massy Stores Limited joined the OECS’ COVID-19 rResponse by donating EC$250,000 towards the procurement of five ventilators to be distributed among Member States.
Director General of the OECS, Dr. Didacus Jules, lauded the efforts of Massy Stores in this crisis.
He remarked: “The OECS is pleased to work with partners of such sensitivity. Massy has helped maintain rationality by the measures they have put in place to guarantee equitable access to food supplies, and to ease public concerns on food security.”
Managing Director of Massy Stores (Saint Lucia), Mr. Martin Dorville, specified the importance of private sector support for public-spirited initiatives such as the current COVID-19 pandemic and re-affirmed the company’s commitment in such circumstances. Further, Mr. Dorville expressed a willingness to work with the OECS on this initiative given its alignment to Massy’s strategic focus:
“We understand the very critical role that the private sector can play in this fight which is slowly becoming a humanitarian effort. The Massy group prides itself on being a “force for good. Opportunities like these allow us to live this out and respond in a very real way to the crisis. The OECS structure and model allows for the organization to do so.”
This collaboration has planted seeds of opportunities beyond COVID-19, as the parties have recognized the need for more deliberate collaboration to strengthen food security in the region.
“Even while our immediate collaboration is focused on helping to win the medical battle, Massy and ourselves have started discussions on longer-term strategic initiatives that will reduce our reliance on foreign food imports, and promote healthy food choices,” noted the director general.
The OECS Commission’s response in the fight against COVID-19 includes inter alia the establishment of an OECS COVID-19 Task Force, revamping communications management for the region’s response (including a Facebook collaboration), realigning current donor-funded project objectives to respond to emerging regional challenges, bilateral engagements to increase resource mobilization efforts (including enhancing collaboration with direct relief and Cuban counterparts), and enhancing education tools for learning continuity.
The OECS Commission is of the fervent view that the most powerful strategy against the COVID-19 pandemic is through heightened collaboration between the public and private sector. The Commission, therefore, takes this opportunity to sound a clarion call to other regional Private Sector institutions to join the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the OECS by supporting the ongoing efforts spearheaded by the Commission.