WHA73 virtual meeting participants, top row, left to right, Minister of Health, the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett; right, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Delores Stapleton-Harris. Bottom row, left to right, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws; and NIA Minister of Health the Honourable Hazel Brandy-Williams.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts –- Four St. Kitts and Nevis representatives participated in WHA73, a virtual meeting which resumed on November 9 to 14 by 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) for the World Health Organization (WHO).

Virtual sessions were attended by, Minister of Health, the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Delores Stapleton-Harris; Dr. Hazel Laws, Chief Medical Officer, and NIA Minister of Health, the Honourable Hazel Brandy-Williams.

Minister Byron-Nisbett made two interventions on behalf of St. Kitts and Nevis. Pillar 1 focused on ‘one billion people benefiting from universal health care. The minister addressed agenda item 11.8: Neglected tropical diseases’, where she spoke of St. Kitts and Nevis’ success in the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis and endorsed the draft report on Neglected Tropical Diseases.

“The current draft road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021–2030 seeks to encourage member states to fundamentally shift focus from disease-specific programmes to integrated approaches,” said Mrs. Byron-Nisbett. “It is based on common delivery platforms in the context of universal health coverage.

“Chairperson, it is certainly the right time for countries to pursue the elimination of NTDs, understanding the urgent need to accelerate progress,” said Mrs. Byron-Nisbett. “Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, and lead health spokesman for CARICOM commented recently when our Federation achieved certification for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. Of course, this is a result of a strong political commitment to public health and making the health of mothers, children, and families a regional priority.”

Mrs. Byron-Nisbett credited the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) regional office for its assistance in galvanizing support of the efforts of member states “to work together for the elimination of more than 30 communicable diseases and related conditions by 2030.” This initiative is referred to as the PAHO Elimination Initiative.

Pillar 2 addressed ‘one billion people better protected from health emergencies, specifically, agenda item 13.2: WHO’s work in health emergencies.’ During this, the minister spoke to the Federation’s success with COVID-19, thanked all countries and organizations that assisted, and made the case for The Republic of China (Taiwan) to be part of the WHO especially in light of how successfully Taiwan is managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our success is attributed to our country’s rigorous public health response, which includes specific protocols enforced through relevant regulations including mandatory wearing of masks,” said Mrs. Byron-Nisbett, “as well as the strong leadership of Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, who is also representing the CARICOM region on the ACT-Accelerator Council. Having joined the COVAX Facility, St Kitts and Nevis urge all countries to ‘buy-in” and participate in the COVAX Facility, not only to generate the necessary funds for successful development of vaccines but also to prevent further monumental loss of lives.”

Mrs. Byron-Nisbett said the support of Taiwan has been “immense.” They provided the Federation with large quantities of COVID-19-related personal protective equipment (PPE’s), engaged in a critical, expert review of St. Kitts and Nevis’ National Pandemic Response Plan and shared expert knowledge regarding the management of the Covid-19.

“St Kitts and Nevis continues to make an appeal at this August Forum for the recognition of Taiwan as a global development partner in health and technology especially when they have become a model country in the management of COVID-19,” said Mrs. Byron-Nisbett.”