PORT-OF-SPAIN: Canada’s Global Partnership Program (GPP) has donated a fully equipped Biosafety Level 3 (BSL) laboratory to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
The laboratory is the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean.
(CARPHA) is now better equipped to perform faster and safer detection and response to infectious disease outbreaks in the region. It is currently the only laboratory in the English-speaking Caribbean with the capacity to detect and diagnose cases caused by the chikungunya pathogen.
The new laboratory was handed over to CARPHA by Gérard Latulippe, the high commissioner for Canada to Trinidad & Tobago, during a ceremony held at the agency’s headquarters in Port-of-Spain last week.
“In our modern age, disease knows no boundaries,” said Latulippe during the ceremony. “Isolated disease threats can very quickly become regional or global menaces, posing serious threats to the health, safety and security of people the world over.”
Latulippe said the new laboratory is intended to strengthen biological security, biological safety and biological risk management across the Caribbean. In addition, he said the GPP works collaboratively at the “health-security interface” to address biological threats of shared concern and responsibility to health and security sectors.
Dr. C. James Hospedales, executive director of CARPHA, said the movement of international travelers, as well as the increased volume of global food trade can facilitate rapid disease outbreaks among countries.
“Having the capacity to rapidly detect, diagnose and respond to disease outbreaks, natural or deliberate, is of paramount importance towards safeguarding our economies,” he said.
Minister of Health of Trinidad & Tobago, Dr. Fuad Khan, also emphasized the importance of the new facility.
“This first class laboratory will enable us to be even better prepared for any emergencies that can be caused by pathogenic agents through early detection and enhanced response capabilities,” he said.
In addition to the laboratory facility, which cost CAD $2.5 million, the Canadian government also provided sample collection kits, with the co-operation of the Pan American Health Organization in 2012, valued at CAD $950,000.