Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, chats with Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joy St. John (right) before the start of the seminar at the LES Centre. Looking on is Acting Director of Medical Services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Dr. Dolores Lewis.

Barbados is giving full support to the adoption and implementation of the revised International Health Regulations (IHR) of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Minister of Health, Donville Inniss made this commitment today, as he addressed the opening of a training seminar on “Dangerous and Infectious Diseases”, held in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, to mark World Health Day, 2009. 

The Minister noted that the world required a global system that could rapidly identify and contain public health emergencies and reduce panic and the disruption of trade, travel and society in general. And, he said: “The revised International Health Regulations 2005, provide a global framework to address these needs through a collective approach to the prevention, detection, and timely response to any public health emergency of international concern.”

While acknowledging that the Ministry had strengthened its ability and capacity at the ports of entry, he said: “There are 22 Environmental Health Officers stationed at the three ports … and the provision of these core capacities is in an effort to militate against the international spread of diseases.”  

PAHO’s support in addressing the issue of potential outbreaks of infectious diseases was also lauded by the Health Minister, who further noted that in 2007, that organisation had facilitated a training workshop on Pandemic Flu Outbreak Response.

“The objective of that workshop was to create a team of capable professionals that could be mobilised quickly in order to start early investigations and respond to outbreaks,” he explained. 

PAHO was also praised for providing support to WHO members states, including Barbados, to improve influenza surveillance, in keeping with the revised IHR and the need to strengthen the pandemic’s influenza preparedness and response.

The two-day seminar, which concludes tomorrow, was designed to ensure that a trained workforce continues the normal provision of health care and could cope efficiently with any additional demands resulting from an infectious disease outbreak. The development of a strategic plan to guide all stakeholders in the event of an infectious disease outbreak is expected to be formulated at the end of the consultation.

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