Over 50 Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) were rewarded last Saturday for long service to the Ministry of Health, in a ceremony held by the Barbados Association of Environmental Health Officers at Bagatelle Great House, St. Thomas.
Minister of Health, Dr. David Estwick addressed the ceremony and commended the association for providing “professional leadership for its members” and working “in partnership with the Ministry through its advocacy and support” to ensure its environmental health programmes were accomplished.
Acknowledging that environmental health was a critical element in achieving the goals of improving and sustaining the health of Barbadians, the Minister said programmes under the aegis of the Environmental Health Department had been established to reduce and control the incidence of communicable and infectious diseases.
These, he said, included the management of solid waste, surveillance, monitoring and management of vector borne diseases, food safety and security, institutional hygiene, water quality and public health education.
While it was noted that officers had been provided with continuous training in various disciplines to ensure their department “kept up to date with new developments”, Dr. Estwick applauded the training given by the EHOs to the public, in relation to food safety and vector control.
In this respect, he disclosed that a programme started in September 2005, with the aim of training 10,000 food handlers had to date trained 3,650 food handlers and another programme in vector control, aimed at 2,000 ancillary and staff members, had since 2006, trained 150 individuals. These programmes are being conducted in collaboration with the Barbados Community College.
The work of the Environmental Health Officers in undertaking rodent baiting across the island was also highlighted. The Minister revealed that this programme would “eventually integrate 1,000 rodent bait stations across the island into a geographical information system that would allow the Vector Control Unit to determine the rodent population in Barbados more accurately” while measuring the effectiveness of the baiting exercise.
The Environmental Health Department was also lauded by Dr. Estwick for its efforts at strengthening and improving international health surveillance systems through the air and sea ports. He also disclosed that the Health Ministry was in the process of establishing an Epidemiology Unit whose primary task would be to monitor communicable diseases in this country.
Among the top awardees were David Thornhill for 42 years of service and Wingrove Beckles and Atlee Thorpe for 40 years each.