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Fight against zika virus calls for regional collaboration

The delegates from CARICOM’s 15-member states began arriving in the country late last week as they prepared to be a part of the 27th Intersessional meeting that Belize is hosting as the country’s Prime Minister holds the seat of Chairman for the Caribbean Community.  As we have been mentioning there are several areas of concerns being tabled at these meetings as was explained to us by the Secretary General of CARICOM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.

Ambassador Irwin LaRocque – Secretary General of CARICOM

There are a number of very important issues that we will be discussing and we will have heard from the statements last night, correspondent banking and the impact it’s having on our economies is a very important one for us to address. Security is another one, the issue of crime and security is an issue that is impacting all of our member states. The Zika virus is yet another one, this threat on our health is something that we need to address collectively. There are a few other items of great interest, the border issues which we must discuss and come to some common position where we can move forward. The issue on the applications for associate membership, there are five territories now six that have applied for associate membership. There is a technical working group that has been established by the heads of government, they have done some preliminary work and we’ve been making some recommendations to heads on a way forward in terms of how we treat these applications going forward. These are just some of the issues, climate change including. We had a very important consultation here in Belize City on Friday in which Ministers of the Environment were present and the recommendation from that session will be coming here for consideration from the heads of government.

 As you heard, the ZIKA virus is a topic up for discussion at these meetings here on the Placencia Peninsula and according to Dr C. James Hospedales of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), there is the urgent need for regional collaboration on this matter.

Dr C. James Hospedales – CARPHA

We have five CARICOM countries where Zika has been detected and a number of other Caribbean countries including Puerto Rico and St. Maarten. I think I’ve seen all the member states in the region intensify their public information, vector control and trying to get ahead of the curve where this is concerned. Suriname which was the earliest country to be affected, I know from working with them that they are very active in trying to educate and deal with the vector and reduce the risk to their population. The detection triggers a number of other responses in the plan.”

 Meetings are ongoing among heads of States and are expected to continue up until eight o’clock tonight.  A press briefing is slated to take place tomorrow evening following the plenary sessions and caucus.