The Caribbean’s fight against COVID-19 has just received a major financial boost from the European Union.
The European Union is providing a grant of 8 million euro (US$8.6M) to help the Caribbean fight the coronavirus outbreak.
The grant itself, will be implemented by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and overall, is expected to help improve the detection, surveillance, prevention, control and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to an official statement from the EU, the funds will be used to purchase COVID-19 test kits, masks and other personal protective equipment, testing reagents, and other materials required for coronavirus testing. The grant also will increase the capacity of regional countries to carry out laboratory testing for COVID-19, support coronavirus quarantine and isolation procedures, as well as contact tracing.
In addition, the funding will help support laboratory testing and epidemiology training, strengthen surveillance at ports of entry and support and promote the use of COVID-19 guidelines and protocols among health professionals.
With regard to CARPHA itself, some of the funding will go towards CARPHA hiring three additional laboratory technologists, to deal with the anticipated surge in demand for testing for the COVID-19 virus and also support the maintenance of new and existing equipment.
Specifically it will increase the capacity of CARPHA and CARPHA Member States to respond to outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus, strengthen public education and behaviour change programmes on communicable diseases, as well as strengthen regional coordination and the institutional capacity of CARPHA in preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.
The EU grant also is intended to help finance treatment and vaccines when they become available.