“Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of all people and their communities,” stated Dr. Joy St. John in observance of Caribbean Public Health Day on 2 July 2021.
Caribbean Public Health Day is the regional celebration and an opportunity to highlight the contribution that public health has made and can make to the socio-economic development of the Region, while sensitizing Caribbean people about the importance of public health.
The Caribbean has made significant advances in public health such as immunisation, maternal and child health, improved access to clean drinking water, sanitation and food safety. CARICOM Member States have also built their resilience to address several outbreaks and natural disasters.
However, the Region faces new and old public health challenges, such as climate change, rapidly aging populations, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases and natural disasters including volcanic eruptions. The COVID-19 pandemic posed the greatest challenge to public health in the Region, and CARICOM countries have done well in controlling the epidemic and protecting their populations.
COVID-19 has exacerbated the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) situation, not only affecting persons with those chronic diseases, but also contributing to the increase in NCDs especially mental health disorders. The tsunami of NCDs which are affecting the quality of life of more people – the old and the young – continue to take a toll on the health and economies of Caribbean populations.
It is critical that CARICOM Member States rise to the occasion of scaling up our commitments based on the World Health Organization evidenced-based cost-effective public health interventions. To meet these 21st century challenges, we must use a public health approach that will improve and protect the health of people and communities where they live, work and play.
On a daily basis, persons in public health, work with Governments, civil society private sector, communities, families and individuals to generate collective action, to ensure the best health and maximum socioeconomic development.
The activities of CARPHA advance the public health of the Region in several ways, including monitoring health threats in local and visitor populations, responding to public health emergencies, laboratory services, nutrition, food safety and security, health research, environmental health, and pharmaceutical quality as well as capacity building.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it very obvious that public health professionals are essential everywhere. Today, CARPHA publicly thanks all public health nurses, public health doctors, surveillance officers, epidemiologists, environmental health officers, health educators, community health workers, and other public health workers who work tirelessly in the communities, and permanent secretaries, chief medical officers within the Ministries of Health.
The power of public health is the single most effective intervention in terms of extending life expectancy and should not be undervalued.
Join CARPHA in this special CPHD in supporting and maintaining good public health in our Region.
Source: CARPHA, 2021 (www.carpha.org)