The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA)

Pamela Berkowsky
Pamela Berkowsky

A member of the Founders Advisory Board of the Journal of Health and Human Experience, Pamela Berkowsky is a former assistant chief of staff to Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and former chief of staff to the Governor of the US Virgin Islands. She served as the Governor’s representative to the Healthcare Reform Implementation Task Force and chaired the H1N1 Response Task Force. Ms. Pamela Berkowsky is married to Dr. Adam Shapiro, an otolaryngologist, and co-authored a seminal article on biodefense which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1997. She has recently been involved with a global NGO engaged in COVID-19 response efforts in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency, headquartered in Trinidad & Tobago (with additional locations in Jamaica and St. Lucia), was established by CARICOM leaders in 2011 and became fully operational in 2013. As a regional public health agency, it currently has 24 full members with a mission to “build member states’ capacity to prevent disease and promote health and wellness through leadership, partnership and innovation in public health.” Its establishment combined five pre-existing agencies: the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI); the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC); the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI); the Caribbean Health Research Centre (CHRC); and the Caribbean Research and Drug Treatment Laboratory (CRDTL). Among its many programs, CARPHA sets regional regulatory standards, leads responses to regional public health crises; provides routine public health data collection, evaluation and monitoring; engages in public health workforce development and training; and conducting its own laboratory testing and supporting the laboratory capabilities of its member states.

With thousands of COVID-19 positive cases identified in 33 regional states and territories, CARPHA has played an important regional role during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The CARPHA Medical Microbiology Lab (CMML) has conducted thousands of lab tests for its member states throughout the Caribbean. It has facilitated the development of a regional COVID-19 treatment protocol and continues to provide critical technical support, stakeholder engagement, and connectivity to global organizations including the World Health Organization and Pan-American Health Organization.

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Pamela Berkowsky is a senior executive defense consultant with the South Florida Defense Alliance and president of the Blue Sapphire Strategies advisory firm.

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