Guyana records its appreciation to the Prime Ministers of Canada and Jamaica and the Secretary-General of the United Nations for convening this important high-level event.

Guyana, one of the smallest states on the continent of South America, borders countries which have a high incidence of Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Migrants, seeking refuge, enter our territory in areas which necessitate the delivery of effective health services over long distances and to remote settlements. These factors impact the state’s ability to protect its people from disease and to earn revenue to maintain its economy.

Guyana is a small, developing state whose many challenges have been compounded by its need to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Small states need structured and sturdy systems to save lives and support secure livelihoods.

In the medium and long terms, we must build capacity to respond effectively and efficiently when faced with health crises which are predicted to occur more frequently in the future.

In the long term, we must achieve food security by sustaining agriculture, manufacture and services so that when our economy reopens, our public and private sectors will be capable of rapid production and progress.

In the short-term, however, we are obliged to respond to the urgent, unavoidable and unanticipated effects of the COVID-19. The public health sector’s requirements are costly and necessary. The expanded, all-of-economy response will overwhelm small economies in the absence of concessional resource availability.

We recognize that given the multidimensional nature of the impact of COVID-19, extraordinary financing must be directed to support small states and we recommend three ways:

        – to respond immediately to the life-saving exigencies of the pandemic;

       –  to develop holistic recovery plans; and exit strategies

    –   to build capacity to establish permanent public health structures to prepare for future international diseases such as we’ve seen over the last decade: Chikungunya, MERS, SARS and Zika.

Excellencies, we commend and thank the governments and institutions which have supported the flow of needed resources to small states like ours so far. We recognize that more must be done. I thank you.

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