BRIDGETOWN, Barbados —The European Union is providing a grant of 8 million euros (US$8.6 million) to help the Caribbean fight the coronavirus outbreak.
The funds will be used to purchase COVID-19 test kits, masks and other personal protective equipment, testing reagents, and other materials required for coronavirus testing. It will also increase the capacity of regional countries to carry out laboratory testing for COVID-19, support coronavirus quarantine and isolation procedures, as well as contact tracing.
The EU assistance will also support laboratory testing and epidemiology training, strengthen surveillance at ports of entry and support and promote the use of COVID-19 guidelines and protocols among health professionals.
The grant will be implemented by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and overall is expected to improve the detection, surveillance, prevention, control and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, it will increase the capacity of CARPHA and CARPHA Member States to respond to outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus, strengthen public education and behaviour change programmes on communicable diseases, as well as strengthen regional coordination and the institutional capacity of CARPHA in preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.
In addition, it will finance treatment and vaccines when they become available and allow CARPHA to hire two additional laboratory technologists to deal with the anticipated surge in demand for testing for the COVID-19 virus and also support the maintenance of new and existing equipment.