CARPHA is equipped to investigate and manage communicable diseases through its security laboratories, a variety of specialized units such as an experimental mosquito colony, several epidemiological databases that are maintained within a LAN infrastructure and an active preventive maintenance unit.
The diseases which are investigated are:
This grouping includes the re-emerging diseases like tuberculosis in association with HIV/AIDS, and new communicable diseases that are now endemic in the region.
CARPHA’s role is in:
As a public health agency, CARPHA is involved in addressing the prevalence of non-communicable (NCD) or chronic diseases, which account for the majority of deaths and illnesses in the Region. The NCD epidemic causes enormous human suffering and also impacts negatively on human development in both social and economic realms. Diseases of concern are hypertension, diabetes, obesity—especially childhood obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancers such as cervical carcinoma. The Agency focuses on:
CARPHA’s efforts to improve the quality of life in the Caribbean focus on household food and nutrition security with the aim of achieving optimal nutritional status for all the people of the Region. It is mindful of the importance of reviewing the food and nutrition security situation in the Caribbean and planning for averting future occurrences of food insecurity. The Agency is therefore contributing to the identification of pockets of malnutrition that exist in vulnerable groups, as a consequence of inequities associated with poverty.
CARPHA gives high priority to the prevention of diseases associated with obesity, for example, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. It acknowledges that a multi-sectoral approach is required and will contribute to the effort through:
As a public health institution, CARPHA’s mandate extends beyond the surveillance and management of disease to the improvement of well-being at all stages of human development, from infancy to old age. This involves attention to immunization and vaccines, reproductive and sexual health and the increasing occurrence of injuries and violence.
The Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) at CARPHA aims to reduce morbidity and mortality due to common vaccine preventable diseases by developing and expanding permanent immunization services within primary health care in the Region.
The EPI office at CARPHA has made a significant contribution to making EPI in the Caribbean one of the leading programmes in the world. Poliomyelitis has been eliminated from the Caribbean since 1982 and eradicated from our region of the Americas since 1994. Indigenous measles was last confirmed in 1991, congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) in 1999 and rubella in 2001. Tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus are virtually unknown in the CARPHA-served Caribbean.
Most countries in the Region are now providing protection against at least ten diseases in their National Immunization Programmes. These diseases are: tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, rubella, mumps, CRS, hepatitis B and more such as haemophilus influenza b, etc. Bermuda is providing protection against more than 15 diseases.
Injuries and violence are among of the top three causes of mortality and morbidity in the Caribbean. CARPHA is:
The abuse of alcohol and recreational drugs generates significant secondary morbidity. Excessive alcohol use can lead to auto accidents, spousal and child abuse, and other injuries while recreational drug use may result in physical violence, wounding or even death.
Accurate surveillance data for substance abuse as well as the legitimate use of psychotropic drugs for minor and serious mental illness are important in the formulation of mental health policies.
Environmental health is the interrelationship between people and their environment that promotes human health and well-being and fosters a safe and healthy environment. Problems arise from biological and chemical contaminants in water, food, air and soil, and physical hazards in the home, workplace and general surroundings. CARPHA takes a multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary approach to the management of environmental health in the Caribbean.
The role of CARPHA in environmental health is focused on:
More specifically, technical and advisory services in environmental health involve:
It is recognized that the Caribbean is the most tourism dependent region in the world and that the industry is vulnerable to health, safety and environmental issues, such as foodborne and enteric disease outbreaks, and climatic change. Dr C. James Hospedales, Executive Director of CARPHA pointed out that "challenges faced in the industry are preventable through collaborative efforts with regional and global partners to improve monitoring and response, training and standards. In so doing, CARPHA is responding to an identified need in the region as the majority of CARPHA’s member states are dependent on tourism."
In January 2014, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) agreed to work in partnership with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) to establish a Tourism and Health Program. The program will continue to develop other strategic partnerships. Antigua and Barbuda’s, Minister of Tourism, John Maginley, a long standing champion for this program said" I have been supporting the need for a joint Tourism and Health initiative for the past eight years, since I was a Minister of Health. Our image and tourism product are frequently troubled by outbreaks of illnesses among visitors. This program I believe will strengthen the tourism economies as well as lead to healthier outcomes."
The goal of this program is to improve the health, safety, quality and sustainability of the Caribbean tourism industry thereby contributing to the industry and the region being more competitive and sustainable. Mr. Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization said "Partnering with CARPHA gives us access to an immediate and authentic source of information about health risks to the Caribbean. Through CARPHA’s guidance we will be able to assist our tourism stakeholders in understanding how best to handle a situation that might threaten the health of our citizens and our visitors".
The Tourism and Health program will achieve its goal through the implementation of an integrated health, safety and environmental management approach that combines sensitization, training, surveillance, monitoring and response, standards implementation, research and partnerships. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Minister of Heath, Jamaica and former Chair of CARPHA’s Executive Board indicated that "This joint partnership between CARPHA and CTO is strategic and welcomed to ensure that visitors to the Caribbean and tourist industry staff stay healthy, and that our tourism-dependent economies remain sustainable and profitable."
Successful implementation of this program will also assist Member States to meet global commitments, such as those contained in the (revised) International Health Regulations (2005) for strengthening surveillance and response capacity, assessment and management of food safety events, and building human resources. The program will also establish and promote multidisciplinary, intersectoral and private–public partnerships.
Further information on the Tourism and Health program can be obtained by contacting Dr. Lisa Indar, Program Coordinator, CARPHA Tourism and Health Program (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)