CARPHA Supports St. Vincent and the Grenadines for CELAC and Cricket World Cup 

March 6th, 2024

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The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) conducted an integrated mission to St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to strengthen surveillance, early warning and response, laboratory, health and food safety capacity in preparation for the 8th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) on March 1st and the International Cricket Council (ICC) T20 Mens’ World Cup in June. CELAC welcomed 33 Heads of State and Governments, their respective delegations and regional agency representatives.

The CARPHA mission, led by Dr. Lisa Indar, Director, Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control (SDPC), comprised persons from several CARPHA departments, Ms. Angela Hinds, Head, Health Information, Communicable Diseases and Emergency Response (HCE), Dr. Laura-Lee Boodram, Head, Caribbean Regional Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme, Dr. Michelle Hamilton, Head of Laboratory Services and Networks (LSN), Mr. Shane Kirton, Programme Manager, Environmental Health and Sustainable Development (EHSD), Drs. Maurice Frank and Jarelle Branford, Technical Officers, HCE, Mr. Keston Daniel, Epidemiologist, Regional Tourism and Health Program (THP) and Mrs. Danielle Gordon-John, Senior Laboratory Technologist.

Dr. Simone Keizer Beache, Chief Medical Officer, remarked “The integrated CARPHA SDPC in-country mission took place during the preparations for SVG’s hosting of the CELAC Summit. The schedule was challenging given the competing demands, but the willingness and flexibility of the CARPHA team and the recognition of its importance by the SVG team led to a successful mission. We strongly recommend that all CARPHA Member States take full advantage of the capacity building opportunities on offer.” Dr. Lisa Indar indicated, “The wide scope of activities executed by CARPHA covers many facets of strengthening overall public health surveillance and action. It’s the first of a series of visits for host countries for the ICC T20 Mens’ World Cup toward building regional capacity to prepare CARPHA Member States to mitigate against possible public health threats.”

Key outcomes of this mission included:

  • A 2-day workshop on Communicable Diseases Surveillance for Health Workers conducted with 37 participants across the health sector to understand case definitions and timely reporting to the central level.
  • Conduct of a National Risk Assessment for mass gatherings, in collaboration with PAHO, using the WHO/PAHO Mass Gathering Risk Assessment Tool. The results of the risk assessment will be used to guide preparation and response for the upcoming ICC T20 CWC.
  • A desktop simulation exercise with 34 participants, including public health nurses, environmental health officers and law enforcement. This exercise tested how participants responded to multiple public health scenarios during mass gathering events and identified gaps/challenges of the same.
  • Rapid response training for 17 public health professionals, including persons from the security/defense force and the National Emergency Management Organisation. The training reviewed scenarios that necessitated mounting a response to a public health emergency by rapidly dispatching a multidisciplinary team to investigate and implement mitigating measures to contain the situation.
  • Mass gathering surveillance training, conducted for 16 key public health staff of the MOHWE, including the CMO and national epidemiologist. An all-hands-on-deck approach was taken emphasizing the need for daily and real-time reporting, monitoring, response, coordination and communication. CARPHA regional mass gathering syndromic surveillance system (MGSS) was detailed, including national surveillance, tourism-based surveillance and the new module developed for mass gatherings. Nurses at the health command centre for the CELAC summit were also trained and registered on MGSS.
  • Training on Food and Environmental Health safety during mass gatherings for 82 food handlers, including those who were providing the catering for the CELAC summit. The training focused on ensuring all food handlers are equipped with the appropriate knowledge and tools to prepare, cook, store and serve food to guests at the establishments and in a Mass Gathering setting.
  • Training in Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, conducted for 50 individuals in the hospitality sector with an additional focus on specificities of Mass Gatherings. The session aimed to build capacity to quickly identify and respond to cases of Infectious Diseases and included participants from the hotel, food, and beverage sectors some of which were working closely with the CELAC summit and will be working with the upcoming Cricket World Cup.
  • Assessments of the laboratory network of SVG for optimization of laboratory services available in-country. Training in testing for priority pathogens during an emergency response and/or mass gathering was conducted for seven laboratory staff of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital and the Molecular Laboratory. Protocols were also developed for the operations of an integrated laboratory service, supported by a Mobile Testing Team from CARPHA.
  • The CELAC site visit, inclusive of the mobile emergency operations centre (EOC) and its facilities, was conducted by the CARPHA and MOHWE team.

These workshops proved instrumental in identifying and addressing various challenges. This joint mission has strengthened SVG’s surveillance and response capacity and preparedness to effectively anticipate and manage potential challenges, ensuring a seamless and secure CELAC and T20 CWC tournament experience for all.

CARPHA and SVG continue to work toward supporting SVG’s preparation for these large-scale mass gathering events. The CARPHA team provided support to SVG for the CELAC summit on March 1st as follows: (i) support at National Laboratory (ii) support at health EOC (HEOC) and (iii) support at the health command site at Sandals.

This CARPHA mission to St. Vincent and the Grenadines was made possible through the World Bank via the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Regional Health Project.