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Caribbean Must Improve Health Needs Identification

CARIBBEAN MUST IMPROVE HEALTH NEEDS IDENTIFICATION, REGIONAL HEALTH AGENCY SAYS

New York, Aug 9 2005 5:00PM

While the Caribbean region's transportation and infrastructure have improved, it must strengthen public health delivery services by upgrading the information and needs-identification systems which have depreciated over the past four decades, the director of the United Nations regional public health agency said today.

Addressing Ministers of Health visiting the UN World Health Organization's (WHO) regional arm, the 35-member Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Washington, DC, Mirta Roses said: "Some of the programmes and activities PAHO is working on in the Caribbean would have been unthinkable just five or 10 years ago. Most of this has to do with improvements in transportation and telecommunications infrastructure."

On the other hand, "the Caribbean remains weak in terms of information in a region where services in vital statistics were strong 40 years ago and have now practically disappeared," she said.

Meanwhile, it was imperative that PAHO reinforce the strategy of global technical cooperation with the Caribbean as a whole, as well as with individual Caribbean nations, she said.

"We have much more to do, particularly in terms of infrastructure, which is still vulnerable," she said of a region always at risk of devastation by summer hurricanes.

Mrs. Veta Brown, Barbadian-based Caribbean Program Coordinator at the 100-year-old PAHO, stressed the importance of the integration and coordination of human resources and available financing. "Either because of size or economic capacity, these nations cannot by themselves confront the public health challenges ahead of them," she said.

The Ministers making the two-day visit to the world's oldest international public health organization were John Maginley of Antigua and Barbuda, Ann David Antoine of Grenada and Rupert Emmanuel Herbert of St. Kitts and Nevis.

ENDS

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