PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The Organization of American States (OAS) says Haiti has assumed the chair of its Permanent Council, warning of the dangers posed by the expansion of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Haiti’s Permanent Representative Leon Charles, who will chair the council for the April-June period has called on governments in the hemisphere to face with open minds the challenges that the pandemic brings.
“In these difficult times, when COVID-19 represents an ever more serious threat for regional and global stability, the leaders of the region must show creativity and innovative spirit to contribute to the strengthening of health infrastructure,” he said in assuming the chairmanship.
Outgoing Chair of the Council and Permanent Representative of Guyana, Riyad Insanally recalled the challenges that the organization faced during his term.
“It was an honor and a privilege for Guyana to preside over the OAS Permanent Council during a particularly difficult period for our organization and our hemisphere,” Insanally said. “I wish all the best to the incoming chair.”
The Permanent Representative of Belize, Daniel Gutierrez, will serve as vice-chair of the council.
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on Thursday approved a US$20 million grant for the Haiti COVID-19 Response Project.
The Washington-based financial institution said that this project aims to respond to the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic through testing and improved treatment in Haiti.
“The rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic requires urgent action to prevent [an] outbreak and save lives in Haiti,” said Anabela Abreu, World Bank Country Director for Haiti.
“The World Bank is working in partnership with the Haitian Government and donor community to respond effectively to the threat posed by COVID-19 by preparing the country’s medical system to diagnose and treat this infection,” she added.
The World Bank said that Haiti faces significant risks from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the first cases have been officially confirmed, it said the risk of local transmission has increased, stating a state of emergency was declared in Haiti on March 20.
“Vigorous response measures will be essential to reduce the spread of the virus,” the bank said. “Otherwise, there is a high potential for the number of COVID-19 cases in Haiti to rise significantly.”
The World Bank said the new Haiti COVID-19 response project aims to limit the transmission of COVID-19 in Haiti through detection, infection control in health facilities and access to the best care possible for people who become ill.
This includes enhancing testing, minimizing spread through contact tracing of confirmed cases, and providing needed laboratory and protective equipment for healthcare staff to ensure quality-of-care as pressure on the medical system increases, the bank said.
It said the project will also support communications activities to help community members understand what they can do to prevent spread and counter misinformation. The project supports the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan developed by the Ministry of Health.