Antigua and Barbuda’s Health Minister Molwyn Joseph has made a strong call for regional financial institutions to put in place enabling infrastructure to allow Caribbean countries to tap into emergency funding to respond to pandemics like Covid.
He made that call when he addressed the ongoing 14th Caribbean Conference on National Health Financing Initiative.
He made specific reference to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) which he says must play a pivotal role in providing the financial resources to help countries like Antigua and Barbuda to respond in situations such as a pandemic.
Joseph lamented that the region should not have to go beyond its borders for financial support to address a pandemic while calling for a fundamental shift in perspective adding that self-determination and preservation are required in solving regional issues.
He says at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, in Antigua and Barbuda, there was no emergency fund from the international community, and global solidarity was low, yet all decisions to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic had financial implications for the Government.
According to Joseph, the ability to seek financial support overseas was compounded by Antigua and Barbuda being considered a “middle to the high-income country”.
The government, he recalled, spent one hundred million US dollars putting infrastructure in place to handle the pandemic; monies it had to find on its own, justifying his reasons for calling on the establishment of a funding facility at the regional level to facilitate the financing of any future pandemic.
Meanwhile, Deputy Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Dr. Valda Henry indicated that the ECCB provided regional member states with financial support during the pandemic through a US 4-million-dollar grant and gave greater access to credit.