L-R: Dr. Hazel Laws, Chief Medical Officer, and the Honourable Hazel Brandy-Williams, Minister of Health within the NIA
Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 13, 2020 (SKNIS): Minister of Health, the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett, lead a delegation at the resumed 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) for the World Health Organization (WHO). The resumed WHA73 is taking place virtually from 9th -14th November 2020, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Delores Stapleton-Harris; Dr. Hazel Laws, Chief Medical Officer, and the Honourable Hazel Brandy-Williams, Minister of Health within the Nevis Island Administration form part of the delegation.
Minister Byron-Nisbett made two interventions on behalf of St. Kitts and Nevis. Pillar 1 focused on ‘one billion people benefiting from universal health care. The minister addressed agenda item 11.8: Neglected tropical diseases’, where she spoke of St. Kitts and Nevis’ success in the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis and endorsed the draft report on Neglected Tropical Diseases.
“The current draft road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021–2030 seeks to encourage member states to fundamentally shift focus from disease-specific programmes to integrated approaches, based on common delivery platforms in the context of universal health coverage. Chairperson, it is certainly the right time for countries to pursue the elimination of NTDs, understanding the urgent need to accelerate progress,” said Minister Byron-Nisbett. “Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, and lead health spokesman for CARICOM commented recently when our Federation achieved certification for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. Of course, this is a result of a strong political commitment to public health and making the health of mothers, children, and families a regional priority.”
Minister Byron-Nisbett credited the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) regional office for its assistance in galvanizing support of the efforts of member states “to work together for the elimination of more than 30 communicable diseases and related conditions by 2030.” This initiative is referred to as the PAHO Elimination Initiative.
Pillar 2 addressed ‘one billion people better protected from health emergencies, specifically, agenda item 13.2: WHO’s work in health emergencies.’ During this, the minister spoke to the Federation’s success with COVID-19, thanked all countries and organizations that assisted, and made the case for The Republic of China (Taiwan) to be part of the WHO especially in light of how successfully Taiwan is managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our success is attributed to our country’s rigorous public health response, which includes specific protocols enforced through relevant regulations including mandatory wearing of masks, as well as the strong leadership of Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, who is also representing the CARICOM region on the ACT-Accelerator Council. Having joined the COVAX Facility, St Kitts and Nevis urge all countries to ‘buy-in” and participate in the COVAX Facility, not only to generate the necessary funds for successful development of vaccines but also to prevent further monumental loss of lives,” said the Health Minister.
The minister said the support of Taiwan has been “immense.” They provided the Federation with large quantities of COVID-19 related personal protective equipment (PPE’s), engaged in a critical, expert review of St. Kitts and Nevis’ National Pandemic Response Plan and shared expert knowledge regarding the management of the Covid-19.
“St Kitts and Nevis continue to make an appeal at this August Forum for the recognition of Taiwan as a global development partner in health and technology especially when they have become a model country in the management of COVID-19,” said Minister Byron-Nisbett.”