UK gives PAHO $3.8 million for Caribbean COVID-19 fight

The United Kingdom is giving US$3.8 million to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to help eight countries of the Caribbean contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and mitigate its impact on their populations.

The beneficiary Caribbean states are Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The financial contribution from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) is in addition to the US$9.9 million already provided by the UK Government via the World Health Organization (WHO) allocations, to support PAHO’s response strategy to COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean, as outlined in its Donor Appeal. The funds from DFID will assist Caribbean countries to access critical medical equipment and other urgent supplies for the immediate health response to COVID-19.

PAHO Director Dr Carissa Etienne explains the objective of the six-month project is to help save lives and reduce human-to-human transmission of the virus, including secondary infections in healthcare settings, through re-organization of health services and the implementation of Infection Prevention and Control measures. It also aims to ensure early detection of COVID-19 cases by strengthening existing surveillance systems and scaling up laboratory capacity. She says part of the strategy will also improve the communication of clear and transparent public health information about risks and protective measures to populations on the islands.

“PAHO very much appreciates the strong partnership and long-standing support of the Government of the United Kingdom. We are grateful to UK DFID for helping Caribbean small island developing states combat the serious COVID-19 pandemic and address the unique challenges they are facing,” she said.

Country Director for the UK DFID in the Caribbean, Stefan Kossoff, reaffirmed the UK Government’s commitment to supporting its Caribbean friends and partners through this crisis. 

“We all face unprecedented challenges with COVID19, and UK assistance is supporting vulnerable health systems in the Caribbean and across the world—to save lives, protect vital services and reduce the risk of future waves of infection globally,” he noted. “In addition to our multi-million commitment for the development of a possible vaccine, this direct regional support will help Caribbean countries to cope with the coronavirus crisis, boost their healthcare efforts and protect the most vulnerable. The UK stands with the people of the Caribbean in these difficult times.”

The donation from the UK Government also will contribute to the UN’s Multi-Sectoral Response Plan for the Eastern Caribbean, launched on 30 April 2020. That plan aims to support countries in the Eastern Caribbean to scale-up their respective national actions to respond to COVID-19 through a multi-dimensional approach.

With funds from DFID, PAHO intends to support a coherent public health response that addresses the most pressing needs of the benefitting countries and ensure strong coordination and management as well as information sharing arrangements with other UN and regional/bilateral agencies to maximize impact and eliminate potential duplication.

PAHO, as the specialized health agency in the Americas and the Regional Office of WHO, is providing critical leadership, coordination and assistance to fight the spread of COVID-19, save lives, and protect the most vulnerable peoples in all 52 countries and territories of the Americas.