Critically needed personal protective equipment (PPE) is on its way to medical workers on the front lines of the Caribbean’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
Yesterday, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) took delivery of the majority of US$3 million worth of PPE at the Port of Bridgetown. CDB procured and purchased the equipment with concessional resources through the Bank’s Special Development Fund.
Speaking at the event, President, Dr Wm Warren Smith reiterated the Bank’s commitment to helping its Borrowing Member Countries to cope with the effects of COVID-19.
“The coming months are likely to be particularly challenging, given the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19. Helping our Borrowing Member Countries to build resilience against shocks like COVID-19 remains high on CDB’s development agenda,” stated Dr Smith.
In her welcome remarks, Executive Director (ag.) of CDEMA, Elizabeth Riley shared the work the agency has done to establish the regional hub that will be used to distribute the PPE to 13 other Caribbean countries.
“To support our Participating States, CDEMA has established an Integrated Regional Logistics Hub in Barbados, which serves as a primary repository and transhipment point for COVID-19 related relief supplies and aids the coordination of humanitarian logistics. This critical and timely support from the Caribbean Development Bank will strengthen the capacity of our Participating States in times of greatest need,” noted Riley.
Cooperation between key regional partners was central to being able to source and distribute the equipment in the face of the intense competition for PPE, once the global pandemic started severely affecting many countries.
In light of such competition, CDB purchased the equipment on a pooled basis so that each beneficiary country could take advantage of economies of scale.
At the agency level, Barbados Port Inc. (BPI) agreed to offer warehousing facilities at the Port of Bridgetown to facilitate the storage, sorting and repacking of the equipment. BPI also agreed to the waiver of associated port charges.
In his address, Barbados’ Minister of the Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs, Honourable Kirk Humphrey, noted that recent improvements in port operations aligned with BPI’s vision of becoming a regional logistics hub.
“The Port is becoming a lot more digital… we are working with the Caribbean Development Bank on the [development of a] port community system as well as we transform the way we do business. This is a good time to make the Bridgetown Port your integrated regional logistic hub,” stated Minister Humphrey.
Further cooperation came from the Pan American Health Organization and the Caribbean Public Health Agency, which worked closely with national governments to identify their PPE needs and provide guidance on what goods should be supplied.
The shipments include 35,000 protective suits, 111,000 isolation gowns, over 67,000 goggles, 250,000 protective gloves and 160,000 masks.
CDB also partnered with Crown Agents out of the United Kingdom to secure the equipment which was sourced from providers in Germany and China.
The PPE will go to Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.