Saint Kitts and Nevis Top Diplomat Makes Intervention on Health and Pharma in Engagement between CARICOM Foreign Ministers and their Indian Counterpart

Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) The Rt. Honourable Dr Douglas, attending the fourth CARICOM-India Ministerial Meeting in Georgetown, Guyana on Friday 21st April 2023, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, intervening under the Sectoral Cooperation theme, specifically on health and pharma, reiterated the sentiments that the friendship with India continues to grow in leaps and bounds, and it is this strong relationship that affords friends the “openness to speak frankly about areas we believe we are deficient in and where we can cooperate to address.” Foreign Minister Dr. Douglas noted that since the pandemic, the challenges experienced have increased. However, while some countries have been able to withstand the shock caused by COVID-19, the health systems of others have been overwhelmed by the resultant demands.”

In the area of cost-effective pharmaceuticals, Dr. Douglas recounted and lauded India’s role in helping the region combat the HIV pandemic through its provision of access to extremely cost-effective generic Anti-retroviral drugs. Such huge efforts have allowed the region to effectively alleviate the HIV/Aids pandemic.

The Rt.Hon. Dr. Douglas further commended the Government of India for being a critical partner in our fight during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic informing that “when vaccines were in high demand, and when it seemed like only developed countries would be able to benefit, Prime Minister Modi, in 2021, decided to support developing countries.”

In concluding his presentation, Minister Douglas acknowledged the major challenges of Non- Communicable Diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes hypertension, and cancer in the region, and in recognising India’s leadership in the promotion of health through yoga, as well as pharmaceuticals. He proffered six (6) recommendations for further cooperation with India:

1. to partner with Saint Kitts and Nevis on our 5k and 10k walks through the initiative “St. Kitts-Nevis (SKN) Moves.”.

2. to collaborate with Saint Kitts and Nevis in exploring opportunities for synergies in the priority area of Universal Health Insurance given the ever-increasing costs of healthcare.

3. to continue the buildout of the relationship with the region which began with the HIV/Aids anti-retroviral drugs to include meaningful cooperation in the area of accessing cost-effective generic pharmaceuticals for non-Communicable diseases, particularly Anticancer.

4. to provide the level of technical assistance that would lead to a robust build-out of the health  infrastructural systems in the region to withstand any further pandemic of any kind.

5. to provide continued collaboration to improve and enhance the capacity, framework, and infrastructure of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) which to a large extent is the primary institution responsible for the health in the region; and

6. to provide robust assistance that would substantively address the challenges posed by violence and crime challenges as it is well documented that such issues significantly threaten the health infrastructure of the region.

The Rt Hon. Dr Douglas was accompanied by Mr Orin Roberts, Foreign Service Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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