With the COVID-19 pandemic having pushed issues of safety, health and wellness to the forefront, Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, is assuring Barbadians that this focus will continue.
Speaking on Wednesday at the launch of the Pharma Wellness In the Community Programme for all Anglican churches at the Ivan Harewood Centre, Christ Church Parish Church, Christ Church, he said: “Fighting the pandemic required us to focus on preserving life. It called on us to pay attention to mental health issues. It caused us to recognise that wellness contributes to better health outcomes.”
Adding that wellness could also include peace of mind, he said: “In that respect, we encourage all workers to get vaccinated. Vaccinations have traditionally been our buffer against infections of various types, and the COVID-19 vaccine is also intended to protect those who are inoculated, from the worse effects of the virus.”
Mr. Jordan pointed out that his Ministry was part of the process of developing protocols that would keep our people safe and contribute to their well-being, and said it was and would remain a part of the monitoring mechanism (COVID-19 Monitoring Unit), which also comprises personnel from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Those gathered were further reminded that in 2018, the Ministry, recognising the need for a focus on wellness, joined with the Barbados Workers’ Union and other stakeholders to implement a National Workplace Wellness Policy focused on eight dimensions of wellness.
He outlined these as physical, psychological/mental, environmental, social, intellectual, occupational, spiritual and cultural wellness, and stressed the policy recognises, with the World Health Organization, that wellness is ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’.
“The policy also recognises that workers are not machines, that they are not just providers of labour, but that they are human beings with many aspects to their personhood,” Minister Jordan added.
Stating that his Ministry was, at this time, focusing on other aspects of Occupational Safety and Health, he noted that the Safety and Health at Work Act was a 2007 Act, but there were no regulations to provide details for the more effective administration of that piece of legislation.
Explaining how this is being addressed, Mr. Jordan said: “We, at the Ministry, through the Labour Department, are in the final stages of our work with the Chief Parliamentary Counsel Office and this is preparing regulations. These regulations will address the provision of PPE. For example, it speaks to the limits of exposure to loud noises; it speaks to the provision of sanitary facilities; the provision of drinking water; among other requirements. I expect to be able to take these regulations to Parliament some time during the month of August.
Meanwhile, Bishop Michael Maxwell, in supporting the Pharma Wellness Programme within his diocese, noted that the Anglican Church was heartened by the initiative.
Acknowledging that there must be greater effort to include exercise in one’s daily routine, he told the audience that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are considered the number one cause of death in Barbados and the Caribbean, and the rise in these diseases was concerning.
The Bishop said NCDs permeate all generations, and not only affect the health and wellness of people, but the wealth and welfare of the nation, with added pressures on Government’s coffers and the level of productivity citizens can offer.
He also reminded them that the majority of the 47 persons who had died from COVID-19 had comorbidities, and said: “The Pharma Wellness Programme, like the vaccine, would provide additional protection to help persons monitor, control and improve their blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other health risks, as well as build their resistance to any possible infection of COVID-19 and any serious complications.”