Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 22 May 2023. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to work together in preventing disease, promoting, and protecting public health. This agreement builds on a long-term collaboration to improve regional health security across the Caribbean, enhancing disease surveillance and better protecting people from health threats. More than one third of the visitors to the Caribbean are from the United Kingdom. The UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) of Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, and Montserrat are also CARPHA Member States.
Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director of CARPHA, said “I welcome this agreement with UKHSA because CARPHA is committed to maintaining our relationship for the long-term, in order to address a range of public health issues towards improving health and saving lives.” Professor Neil Squires, Director of Global Operations, UKHSA added “I am very pleased to sign this agreement with CARPHA as we further develop an equal partnership of shared learning, focused on common challenges to protect people’s health.”
The MoU includes commitments to define strategies for combatting infectious disease threats, non-communicable diseases, strengthening outbreak response, building laboratory and workforce capacity, and improving healthy safer tourism, given the highly tourism dependant economies of UK Overseas Territories in the Region. There is specific emphasis on genomic surveillance of high priority pathogens which emerged as a new service during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also plans of building more capacity to deal with antimicrobial resistance and lessons learned will be shared across field epidemiology and laboratory training programmes at CARPHA and UKHSA.
The UKHSA visited CARPHA’s Headquarters and met with CARPHA’s technical team in April 2022 and March 2023 to identify and expand on the areas of collaboration for improving health security. Dr. Natalie Wright and Professor Squires met with CARPHA’s Executive Management team in April 2023 in the margins of the 67th Annual Health Research Conference to advance discussions. The UKHSA supported CARPHA with secondments in communicable disease surveillance and field epidemiology training programmes from January to March 2023.