Plans In Place At Health Ministry To Manage Disasters

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Minister of the Environment, Dr. Denis Lowe (centre), posing with the recipients of the "Going Green"??awards. (A. Miller/BGIS)

With almost a month into this year’s hurricane season, the Ministry of Health’s staff members have stepped up their level of disaster preparedness.

Minister of Health, Donville Inniss alluded to this yesterday during an address to a Pan American Health Organization-sponsored Health Cluster Training Workshop, at the Amaryllis Beach Hotel.

Regional and international delegates in for the workshop, heard that the island’s Health Ministry remained cognisant of the need to have systems in place in case of a disaster, as it had been mandated with the responsibility for the planning, development and delivery of health care services for the public.??

"We have ensured that a detailed Health Sector Disaster Plan has been formulated to minimise public health risk," the Health Minister stressed, as he noted the timeliness of the workshop in preparation for the hurricane season.??

Mr. Inniss also acknowledged that his Ministry’s Health Sector Disaster Plan formed part of the Barbados’ National Disaster Plan, which was designed to coordinate individual units and health care workers, "so that, in the event of a disaster, the health community is able to respond in the most effective and efficient manner".

While he pointed out that the Ministry possessed a cadre of officers, who are ultimately responsible for all actions taken during and following emergency events,

he spoke of a new initiative by Government. He said: "Given the history of natural disasters and the influence of climate in natural disasters, the Cabinet of Barbados has recently agreed to the establishment of a Climate Change Unit, headed by a Project Manager with responsibility for climate change matters."??

And, he stressed the ongoing efforts at ensuring institutions were fully resourced. He explained: "We continue to work to ensure that all of our health care facilities, including residential care ones, are adequately supplied with electrical power, water and essential supplies and communications services, in the event of a natural disaster.

"In the event that specialised human or material resources are needed, the Ministry of Health, through agencies such as the Disaster Emergency Management (DEM), Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) and the United Nations Donor Group, will make requests for such assistance.??

Acknowledging that the Prime Minister of Barbados would also be requested to activate any relevant bilateral or multi-lateral agreements, he told delegates that other regional organisations would also be mobilised in the event of a disaster.

jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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