Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr. Joy St. John. (FP)

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) stands ready to support the approval for recommendation of treatments against COVID-19 for the Caribbean.

This was disclosed by Executive Director of CARPHA, Dr. Joy St. John, during a discussion hosted by COVID-19 Public Advisor, David Ellis, via the Zoom platform today.

She was part of a panel that included Barbados’ acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anton Best; St. Lucia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George, and Chairman of Grenada’s COVID-19 Health Sub-Committee, Dr. Bert Brathwaite, speaking on the topic: COVID-19 – Lessons Learnt.

Dr. St. John said CARPHA, through the Caribbean regulatory system, approved new treatments after they were approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

She added that through this mechanism, the agency made recommendations for the use of monoclonal antibodies, which were presently in use in some member states.

“The monoclonal antibodies, which are in use already, and then the antiviral pills from Mercks, we are looking at those once we get the approval [from WHO] to recommend their use in the CARICOM region,” she said.

She stressed that CARPHA will support the approval or recommendation for any COVID treatments which received the necessary approvals at the WHO level.

Dr. St. John explained that this was part of the way forward in dealing with COVID-19. She pointed out that measures being undertaken had to be as “sophisticated as possible” in dealing with the treatment of the virus, not just for acute cases, but also for “long COVID cases”.

However, Dr. St. John stressed that the way forward in the fight against COVID-19 also included a better vaccination coverage.

She added that the virus highlighted a number of areas that were wrong with the health sectors across the region, and the need for a re-engineering of the processes so that citizens could live safely with it.

“We have to look at re-engineering our services, our sectors, and that is going to need some regional strengthening, including the strengthening of our information technology system and bandwidth [because] we still have to look at more virtual activities,” the Executive Director pointed out.

Meanwhile, other panelists called for higher vaccination rates as COVID-19 was here to stay, and the world needed to live safely with the virus.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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