Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey (second left) receives personal protective equipment from Caribbean Development Bank President, Dr. Warren Smith while Chairman of the Barbados Port Inc., Senator Lisa Cummins (left) and acting CDEMA Executive Director, Elizabeth Riley, look on. (Sheena.Forde-Craigg/BGIS)

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) are collaborating with the Barbados Port Inc. (BPI) to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies across the Caribbean.

Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, and representatives from CDEMA and CDB were present this morning at the Bridgetown Port, which has become the Regional Logistics Hub for the distribution of PPE supplies.

Acting Executive Director of CDEMA, Elizabeth Riley, stated that the critical and timely support from the Caribbean Development Bank would strengthen the capacity of participating states in times of greatest need, and “is not an option but a collective responsibility” by all agencies involved. 

She said it would deliver “well-coordinated humanitarian assistance to impacted populations in CDEMA participating states”.

Ms. Riley noted that analysis of past significant hazard events in CDEMA participating states had enabled the organisation to identify fundamental areas that needed strengthening with regional response mechanisms, including logistics and relief management efforts.

She highlighted that since the outbreak of COVID-19, CDEMA’s Coordinating Unit has maintained close relations with key regional and international partners and other stakeholders to promote regional level coordination in response to the impact caused by the pandemic, such as social, physical, mental and economic affects.

Ms. Riley pointed out that “the Government of Canada has re-allocated from the Targeted Support to CDEMA Project, CAN$401,359 towards the establishment and operations of the hub, which will further assist in securing personal protective equipment and other medical supplies to the frontline workers.”

CDB’s President, Dr. William Warren Smith, who was present during the handing over of the PPE supplies to Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, on behalf of BPI, commended all Caribbean members of CDB for taking prompt protective measures to safeguard their people, and noted that the initiative is to assist in continuing their fight against COVID-19.

Dr. Smith stated: “The pandemic has resulted in an extremely challenging PPE market, with demand substantially outstripping supply; price escalation; logistical challenges; and quality issues. Given these challenges, CDB consulted with regional partners and agreed to purchase the PPE on a pooled basis, so that recipient countries could benefit from economies of scale and uniform product quality.”

CDB, in an effort to help its members cope with the fallout from the pandemic, approved a financing package that includes policy based-loans of US$140 million, US$67 million in emergency loans, and US $3 million to purchase essential PPE for medical practitioners and patients in 14 countries.

The establishment of the BPI as the regional logistic hub has been recognised at the level of the Heads of Government of CARICOM. It will be available throughout the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane and possibly beyond as a legacy facility. 

The first shipment received and to be distributed by the BPI includes 250,000 protective gloves; 160,000 masks; 110,000 gowns; 67,000 goggles; and 35,000 protective suits.

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