Minister Bunting told the XI Conference of Defence Ministers of the Americas, being held at Arequipa, Peru that “Many of our countries have been ravaged by the Chikungunya virus…and with the recent diagnosis in the United States, the threat of an even more deadly disease, the Ebola virus, is now on our doorsteps.”
“The devastation caused by the Ebola virus in countries across the African continent is clear evidence that we must not take these threats lightly. We must act cooperatively, if we are to prevent the spread of Ebola…and other diseases throughout our region,” he added.
In keeping with the focus of the conference, the National Security Minister noted that the Jamaican delegation was looking forward to garnering further technical information on the establishment and management of military health systems in emergency situations, including states of emergency that may be declared in the midst of a pandemic.
Since the outbreak of the Chikungunya virus, Jamaica has activated its National Emergency and Operation Centre, driven by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), and the Ministry of Health.
Another matter of priority that is of critical importance to national security, Minister Bunting said, was in the area of Cooperation in Search and Rescue Operations. Jamaica is currently the focal point for the Northern Caribbean region, for the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
“While we have improved the skills and capabilities of our officers to respond to such emergencies over the past years, the complex nature of today’s emergencies has placed an even greater strain on our Defence Force to effectively carry out the duties assigned…we look forward to greater cooperation and collaboration with countries of the region through training and sharing of best practices that will enable us to build capacity in this critical area,” he stated.
Turning to organised crime, as well as the illicit firearms and ammunition trade, Minister Bunting noted that Jamaica continues to be play a critical role in combating such threats, to include the recognition of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in March 2013, and urged countries to support its adoption in the Declaration, noting that it has the potential to further control the flow of weapons and ammunition across the region.
The Conference of Defence Ministers of the Americas (CDMA) provides a forum of debate for countries within the Hemisphere, to discuss matters relevant to defence and security, such as peace support operations, civil-military relations, transnational organized crime and terrorism.
Minister Bunting is accompanied by Permanent Secretary, Major General (Retired) Stewart Saunders, and a technical team from the Ministry of National Security.
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