“The Caribbean Public Health Agency works for everyone, everywhere and contributes to access to quality health care and essential medicines, by providing public health services in the areas of laboratory testing, surveillance, program development and policy advice,” stated Dr Virginia Asin-Oostburg. The Director of Surveillance and Diseases Prevention and Control was speaking in observance of World Health Day 2019 under the theme Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere.
CARPHA plays a critical role in providing Member States with valuable information that informs decision making and influence policy to strengthen health systems thereby promoting healthy lives.
Through its unique Medical Qualit Control and Surveillance Department (MQCSD), CARPHA provides the highest quality of laboratory testing of medicines to its clients and Member States. This special service distinguishes the laboratory from other pharmaceutical quality control programs and facilities.
“It is important that the public can have access to quality and affordable medicine that are of the highest standards. This is what CARPHA MQCSD and Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) is all about,” stated Dr Virginia Asin-Oostburg. The laboratory evaluates the continual quality of medicines after approval for sale in the region. Health professionals and the public can now report suspected substandard, falsified medicines and/or adverse medicine reactions to a regional platform called VigiCarib for analysis and action.
With all three (3) of our laboratories being accredited, the Port of Spain laboratory undertakes testing for a wide variety of diseases such as leptospirosis, measles, pertussis as well as testing for mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika. The Environmental Health Laboratory runs a full-service microbiological and analytical laboratory which provides environmental analyses, including water quality monitoring and testing where they test potable, recreational, wastewater, bottled water and coastal water.
Food can be contaminated with many germs causing foodborne illnesses, such as Norovirus and Salmonella, this makes foodborne illnesses one of the most common public health issues in the Caribbean region and having increased by 26% since 2010. The health of the Caribbean economies is closely related to the health of its tourism industry given that the Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region in the world.
CARPHA promotes and strengthens integrated health and environmental monitoring to reduce foodborne disease incidences and improve food safety through its Tourism and Health Program. With this innovative program, CARPHA works towards preventing these illnesses and other health, safety and environment (HSE) issues that can cause harm and have an adverse impact on the people living in and visiting the Caribbean thereby also protecting the tourism industry.
Protecting the health and safety of Caribbean nationals, visitors, as well as workers involved in tourism, is key to the sustainability and profitability of that sector. Mitigating the impact of foodborne threats to health is also a key component of CARPHA’s Tourism and Health Programme.
As the principal Regional Public Health Agency for the Caribbean, one of CARPHA’s core functions is to conduct relevant research on public health priorities in the Caribbean.
As we observe World Health Day on Sunday, CARPHA encourages the Caribbean and governments to invest in public health programmes that will be promoting health and preventing diseases. CARPHA’s 64th Annual Caribbean Health Research Conference which will take place in Trinidad from 20 to 22 June 2019 and bring together health researchers to share knowledge and information on healthcare systems and public health preventive and treatment services.