COVID-19 vaccine roll-out among topics for discussion when Caricom heads meet

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines will be among the major matters for deliberation when Caricom heads of government hold their 32nd Inter-Sessional Meeting today and tomorrow.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) are expected to address the regional leaders on the novel coronavirus pandemic. There will also be discussion on regional economic recovery and transformation.

“Access to vaccines is regarded as crucial to curbing the spread of COVID-19 infections in the region, where many member states have experienced increases in positive cases,” Caricom said in a statement on Monday.

The heads of government, who will meet under the chairmanship of Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, will also examine the status of implementation of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) and any outstanding issues which need to be resolved to ensure that full benefits from the CSME are realised.

“The CSME is regarded as critical to the region’s strategy to build economic resilience, and it is felt that the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need to accelerate the pace of the integration process,” the Caricom statement said.

The meeting is also expected to consider recommendations from the Caricom Commission on the Economy, which was recently reconstituted and mandated to provide advice on implementable solutions to build resilience and push Caribbean economies along the path of sustainable growth and development.

The heads of government will also seek to advance the regional agenda on food and nutrition security, which has become increasingly challenged by a number of factors, including the pandemic with its disruptions to productivity and access to healthy foods.

Also on the agenda are deliberations on the framework for a joint tourism policy for Caricom, which will, among other things, seek to address the impact of the pandemic on the region’s tourism industry and the impact of tourism-related revenue reduction on the region’s overall economic performance.

The meeting is expected to discuss Caricom relations with the new United States Administration. It will also deliberate on matters related to reparations and regional security.

Representatives of the regional private sector, labour and civil society will be among delegates in attendance.

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