PM Rowley declares a statement at CARICOM 32nd Intersessional Heads

PM Rowley declares a statement at CARICOM 32nd Intersessional Heads

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Trinidad and Tobago: Prime Minister Keith Rowley declared a statement at CARICOM 32nd Intersessional Heads of Government Meeting on February 24, 2021.

At the outset, He would like to commend the outgoing Chairman, the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, for his steadfast leadership of the Community when the Region had begun to experience the full brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This pandemic has highlighted the vulnerabilities of Community’s and those of many other Small Island Developing States. To ensure post-pandemic recovery, government must continue to call for the broadening of existing economic vulnerability indices that consider the impact of climate change, natural disasters, and global pandemics on development. This will permit Small Island Developing States access to much-needed concessional financing to aid our recovery and build our resilience.

He reminded people of the gathering in Barbados a year ago, and the world had only just begun learning about the seriousness of the novel coronavirus. Shortly after that, the Region received its first COVID-19 case and has since been fully engaged in its fight against COVID-19. Across the globe, we have seen how this virus and the measures to slow its spread, most notably shutdowns and travel bans, have impacted all segments of society and completely transformed our way of life.

Consequently, he was invited to participate in a WHO Briefing on COVID-19 last week. He reiterated our call to convene an “international convention of the world’s people’s representatives” to commit to equitable sharing of available COVID-19 vaccines. He wants to thank the WHO and his team for their continued efforts to ensure vaccine availability equity, and he also acknowledges and welcomes the United States of America’s commitments, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, France, and Germany, to the global mechanism, COVAX, and the equitable allocation of vaccines. 

The generosity of Barbados and Dominica’s governments in sharing their vaccine gifts received from the Government of India is particularly noteworthy and commendable. Prime Minister Mottley, your pioneering role in securing the Community’s access to vaccines through the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) showed great ingenuity, foresight, and stamina. Allow me to also express my sincerest appreciation to India’s governments and the African Union for their benevolence and for allowing us a pathway to access much-needed vaccines to safeguard the health of the people of our Community. We continue to anticipate that our many approaches, requests, and orders will soon result in satisfying deliveries of approved vaccines for our anxious populations.

He added, Colleagues, regrettably, we have witnessed the disproportionate and adverse impact this virus has had on persons with co-morbidities. On September 15, 2007, I recalled that CARICOM Heads of Government met here in Trinidad and Tobago at the First CARICOM Summit on Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases and adopted the Declaration of Port Spain: Uniting to Stop the Epidemic of Chronic NCDs. 

Almost 15 years later, the Region continues to battle with high mortality rates due to NCDs. Often, these illnesses develop due to low-quality diets and lack of access to fresh produce. We need to redouble our efforts in addressing NCDs and exploring their nexus with food and nutrition security. I hope that our deliberations on Advancing the Regional Agenda on Food and Nutrition Security can assist in this regard while also addressing the Region’s significant food import bill.

Although our attention has been appropriately focused on securing our people’s health and socioeconomic well-being and the Community’s post-COVID recovery, we must remain committed to addressing crime and violence as a public health issue in our Region. We have seen how shutdowns have contributed to an increase in cases of domestic violence across the globe. Additionally, in the Region, we continue to witness unconscionable acts of violence against the women and children of our Community.

We have acknowledged that addressing these challenges is insufficient to rely on Law Enforcement alone. A multi-disciplinary approach that engages various sectors of our Community must be adopted. To this end, I hope that we can soon refocus our attention and efforts to convene the Summit with a difference, aiming to adopt a multi-sectoral response to treat crime and violence as a public health issue in our Region.

He took this opportunity to applaud the CRC for its pioneering work. Many of us have recognized that the road to reparatory justice is likely to be long and arduous. However, we must stay the course. To this end, Trinidad and Tobago have recommitted itself to assist the Community in this regard and, as a first step, has appointed Dr. Heather Cateau, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education of The University of West Indies, St. Augustine, as its new Chairperson to our reconstituted National Committee on Reparations.

He also noted some vital measures and acknowledged everybody’s contribution to this pandemic.

Click here for more news