• 15 JUN 2023

Joint Media Conference Prime Minister Rowley and Dr Tedros

Trinidad and Tobago will support the World Health Organization’s new international accord on pandemic preparedness and response.

Prime Minister Dr the Hon Keith Rowley made the statement during a joint media conference held with the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s today (Thursday 15th June, 2023).

The Pandemic Accord is a pact between member nations to work together for a shared response to shared threats. While still in the negotiation phase it is set for completion by 2024. The agreement aims to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.

Dr Rowley said, “What the pandemic experience has demonstrated is that we need equivalent commitment to govern behaviour in circumstances like that. That is to be anchored in the issue of moral responsibility and equity and respect for human life in general.”

He said, “small developing countries like Trinidad and Tobago, we need to ensure that while we are small in size and income levels, we are not insignificant in the defence of the human condition.”

The WHO Director-General clarified that the negotiations of the new international accord on pandemic preparedness and response will be negotiated for countries by countries, and will be implemented under each county’s laws. He said the WHO will not have the power to impose lockdowns on countries and “WHO will not gain any power to override domestic policy decisions nor would we want to.”

Prime Minister Rowley thanked the WHO/PAHO for defending small island nations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said, “You had the onerous responsibility of guiding the world through this horrible experience. You distinguished yourself by your insistence that small countries like ours should be noticed, taken care of, and listened to … We in Trinidad and Tobago want to acknowledge the role played in assisting the Government in providing the people with the effective response with this dangerous pandemic.”

Dr Tedros acknowledged Prime Minister Rowley for his leadership during the pandemic domestically, regionally, and globally.  He said, “The tough decisions he took helped prevent infections and saved lives”.

The WHO Director-General said he appreciated the Prime Minister’s advocacy for vaccine equity on behalf of CARICOM and other small states”.

Dr Tedros said while WHO declared the global emergency response to COVID-19 to be over, nations must continue to do their part to make the changes needed to keep countries safer.

Dr Tedros congratulated Trinidad and Tobago for playing a leading role in the fight against noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) for more than 15 years.