CARICOM heads of government meeting comes to an end

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Updated: February 17, 2016

The health issue surrounding the ZIKA virus was one of the key issues tabled at this CARICOM plenary meetings and Caucus.  Prime Minister Dean Barrow told the media today that an action plan has been endorsed by the member states that include the continuation of public education with a focus on all areas.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow – CARICOM Chairman

“On Zika, we endorsed a course of action to address the spread of the disease and other diseases borne by way of the Aedes Egypti mosquito. The course of action includes continuous public educational, action to implement measures at ports of entry, health facilities, schools, private enterprises such as hotel and tourism facilities, factories and other businesses concentrating on their surrounding environments in an effort to try and do whatever is necessary to render them free of the mosquito breeding.”

In addition to public awareness, the leaders also looked at the economic aspect of the ZIKA virus and have agreed on designating a period for Caribbean Mosquito Week.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow – CARICOM Chairman

“We also agreed that we will designate the second week of May as Caribbean Mosquito awareness week. Governments are being asked to look at an at least temporary reduction of import tax on essential public health supplies such as insecticides treated bed nets, insect repellent, insecticides for the duration of the epidemic in the region, nobody knows how long it will last but we are thinking of the possibility of two years. We have asked CARPHA and the CARICOM secretariat to report to the Council for Human and Social Development on Health which is an organ of the community on an implementation and effectiveness of the course of action we’ve agreed so there will be continuous monitoring and reporting back in the event there is anything we need to do in a more intense way or in the event it turns out that we have not been as effective in terms of implementation as we ought to be.

While some countries in the Caribbean region have been plagued with confirmed cases of the ZIKA virus, Belize has not had any reported case of the disease.