When COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March 2020, the OECS embarked on a rigorous response to mitigate its effects on Member States. This response included renewed partnerships with development agencies, a new partnership with the private sector and support from bi-lateral friends.
The Government of Brazil donated USD $100,000 to the OECS in support of their response to obtain testing supplies. 8000 swabs/sample kits have already been distributed to the nine participating Member States of the OECS Pharmaceutical Procurement Services (PPS). The procurement and delivery of the 6000 PCR test kits took a bit longer than planned, nevertheless, 5000 of them arrived in Saint Lucia at the right time while the remaining 1000 are en route. These test kits need to be kept at very cold temperatures, at all times.
2000 PCR test kits will be donated to Saint Lucia, while another 2000 have been earmarked for Grenada given the recent cluster of COVID-19 cases. The remaining test kits will be kept in storage to assist Member States that may need them in future.
Ambassador of the Federative Republic of Brazil to Saint Lucia and the OECS, His Excellency Anuar Nahes, said this initial donation is just the beginning of Brazil’s willingness to assist the OECS region. “The Brazil Cooperation Agency has asked me to convey to you that they are ready to do more. With the exception of vaccinations, they are ready to share much-needed supplies with the OECS and its Member States.”
Dr. Carlene Radix, Health of the Human and Social Cluster received the donation on behalf of the OECS, noting that these tests will help augment Member States’ capacity and response to the in-country testing needs. She said,
”The 6000 test kits from this initial donation by Brazil will go a very long way in terms of increasing the capacity of testing for our Member States, especially those who are experiencing clusters of cases, because now the in-country laboratories have scaled up their operations to be able to meet the testing demands.”
This donation is another example of the benefits to be derived from the OECS Economic Union. Ambassador Nahes and Dr. Radix handed over Saint Lucia’s allocation to the country’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George who thanked the OECS for its response to the needs of its Member States.
“We are so very thankful for the support at this difficult time.”
To date, the OECS Member States have received through its Pooled Procurement Service (OECS PPS) XCD 2.16 million dollars worth of supplies and equipment in direct response to COVID-19, inclusive of PPE, PCR test kits, viral swabs, ventilators and ICU kits. The test kits donated by the Government of Brazil were purchased through existing UN procurement mechanisms in collaboration with the World Food Programme and PAHO. The OECS continues to partner with governments, private sector, regional and international organisations in the ongoing COVID-19 response.