Prime Minister Harris Addresses Global Meeting On COVID-19
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, November 03, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, in his capacity as CARICOM Lead Head on matters of health, today (Tuesday, November 03) drew global attention to the challenge of CARICOM Member States being able to adequately finance their efforts to defeat COVID-19.
This was done when Prime Minister Harris addressed the second virtual meeting of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) Facilitation Council, where he called attention to the region’s unique condition in four specific areas.
The four areas identified by the prime minister are (1) the Caribbean being one of the most heavily indebted regions in the world; (2) the Caribbean being the most tourism dependent region in the world; (3) the region’s high vulnerability to climate change, and (4) the high level of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Caribbean. Dr. Harris observed that the prevalence of NCDs presents a significant vulnerability and provides underlying conditions conducive to the spread of COVID-19 and mortality due to the virus.
Prime Minister Harris argued that the combination of the four distinct vulnerabilities undermine the ability of member states to procure necessary resources to finance equitable access to a portfolio of vaccines for their populations, adding that, “The CARICOM region is the most highly dependent region with respect to tourism and in this regard it means that the last ten months have been cruel in terms of its impact upon the economies and the financial capacity and capability of member states.”
The St. Kitts and Nevis prime minister made a powerful case for a special carve out to assist CARICOM member states garner the necessary resources to defeat COVID-19 and to begin the process of economic recovery.
The ACT-A Facilitation Council is responsible for providing high-level political leadership and enabling advice to facilitate the work of the ACT-Accelerator, which is a global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
Some 186 countries, including St. Kitts and Nevis, have signed up for the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access facility (COVAX Facility), which provides an opportunity for member states to benefit from a portfolio of vaccine candidates.
Prime Minister Harris was ably supported in the Council meeting by St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Health, the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws.