(L-R) Dr C. James Hospedales, CARPHA’s Executive Director; Dr Cristina Gutierrez, CARPHA’s Laboratory Manager; David Constant, Representative from the Ministry of Health, Trinidad and Tobago; Jeff Serle, Vice President, Germfree Mobile Laboratories, Inc.; Marlon Thompson, Representative, Office of the Canadian High Commission.
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad -- The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has moved one step forward in its mission to provide strategic direction in analyzing, defining and responding to public health priorities of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), in order to prevent disease, promote health and respond to public health emergencies.
By turning the sod for the installation of its bio-safety level 3 (BSL-3) modular laboratory at its compound located at Port of Spain, Trinidad, the agency is additionally helping to protect the tourism industry which is vital to the region’s economy.
A laboratory with diagnostic capacity for high risk pathogens is essential for the region. When established, this facility will be the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean. The BSL 3 brings many benefits to the region:
• Human and veterinarian pathogens of international public health concern will be rapidly identified and characterized, including emerging and reemerging agents with high epidemic potential and leading to death and economic loss.
• Risk of deliberate release of pathogenic agents will be decreased.
• Health emergency preparedness and response of the 25 member states will be enhanced thanks to improved CARPHA’s laboratory operations, meeting international standards.
This project is being supported by the Canadian government through its Department of Foreign Affairs Trade and Development (DFATD), the Pan American World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the Ministry of Health, Trinidad and Tobago.
It is anticipated that the facility will be commissioned during the first quarter of 2014.