Cayman at PAHO conference

Health Minister Anthony Eden recently led a Cayman delegation to a Pan American Health Organization meeting in Washington DC, joining several other Caribbean UK Overseas Territories to discuss regional health issues.

Anguilla’s health minister delivered an opening address on behalf of the UKOT health ministers. The address, which included input from Cayman, covered UKOTs’ progress over the past 30 years; challenges facing the UKOTs and the Caribbean as a whole; political and socio-economic structures of the territories; and the effects of natural disasters on the health status and economy of each territory, said a GIS press release.

The address concluded by listing nine priority areas in which the UKOTs as a group could provide each other with technical support. These were the International Health Regulations 2005; health disaster preparedness and management; the reorientation of health services; delivering mental health services; HIV/AIDS programmes; national health insurance and social protection in health; revision of laws; the development of quality assurance systems and processes; and, training.

Following two days of presentations by PAHO and UK representatives and meetings with delegates, the gathering concluded with a discussion on the way forward.

In preparation for this discussion, Cayman’s delegation took the initiative in drafting a combined response from all the health ministers. Afterwards, a final version was presented to the PAHO and UK representatives.

The UKOT health ministers agreed there should be a forum through which they would regularly meet to keep informed of health development issues; share approaches and strategies with each other; identify development targets and priorities; identify technical assistance needs; and share areas of expertise with each other.

‘The meeting gave health ministers from our region a chance to familiarize themselves with PAHO/WHO and its regional technical units,’ Mr. Eden said in the release. ‘We had the chance to discuss ways in which the organization could optimize its technical cooperation with us in addressing common priority health issues and needs.’

Apart from Cayman and Anguilla, delegations from Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands also attended. The Department of Health (Global Health Lead, International Division) and Department for International Development (Health Advisor, Overseas Territories Department) represented the UK.

Other members of the Cayman delegation were Permanent Secretary for Health and Human Services Andrea Bryan and Director of Public Health Dr. Kiran Kumar.

PAHO is the arm of the World Health Organization for the Americas and the Caribbean.