Sun | Nov 28, 2021

Jamaica bats for global acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines

Published:Tuesday | September 21, 2021 | 4:36 PM
Bisasor-McKenzie: “Jamaica would ask that the WHO and PAHO intervene to ensure that essential medicines and health technologies that have gone through the rigours of approval are recognised and accepted globally." - File photo.

Jamaica has called for the intervention of the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure the global acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccines being administered by developing countries.

“Jamaica would ask that the WHO and PAHO intervene to ensure that essential medicines and health technologies that have gone through the rigours of approval are recognised and accepted globally. This, we ask as vaccines approved by the WHO, taken by our citizens, are not being accepted in some countries,” said Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, who is a member of Jamaica's delegation to Washington DC for the 59th PAHO Directing Council meeting.

Her intervention, made on day two of the meeting, which is being chaired by Jamaica, comes in the wake of the island having faced challenges with finding consistent and reliable supplies of vaccines and other health technologies in order to support the national COVID-19 response.

“In the first few months of the pandemic, we had to face the crisis for supplies of personal protective equipment and laboratory supplies as we were at the mercy of larger countries that held on to these resources. This threatened to derail our response and undermine the trust in our health infrastructure as there were long turnaround times for laboratory results as well as dissatisfaction amongst health care providers about supplies of personal protective equipment,” she said.

“In the last few months, it has been the shortages of vaccines as promises for supplies are delayed as larger countries continue to pull and engulf resources. Even more recently, the break in our supply chain for liquid oxygen created periods of uncertainty in our hospitals,” she added.

It is against this background that Jamaica has called for multi-sectoral action to support COVID-19 recovery efforts.

“The vulnerability of the region [of the Americas] and in particular, the Caribbean sub-region, is very real to us. It is with these experiences fresh in our minds that we support multi-sectoral action and an increase in regional capacities for the development and production of medicines and other health technologies to improve access and enable consistent and reliable response to the regional health priorities,” said.

“We are indeed grateful to PAHO for several intercessions on our behalf and at this time recognise the work of countries like Argentina and Mexico in the production of vaccines that we have benefitted from at a time of great need. We also recognise the work of Cuba in the development of vaccines that will no doubt benefit the entire region. We also would like to recognise Trinidad and Tobago and Costa Rica that have supplied us with liquid oxygen,” she added.

“There is no doubt that regional production capacity increases access and also stimulates economic recovery in the region. We, therefore, support all the strategic lines of the resolution and urge the Director to provide the technical cooperation and to support the member states in this regard,” Bisasor-McKenzie said.

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