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Health sector fully mobilised

Wade Gibbons

Health sector fully mobilised

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DISRUPTIONS to health services caused by Tropical Storm Tomas have been minimal, says Minister of Health Donville Inniss.
And yesterday he told the DAILY NATION that the Ministry of Health had already put measures in place to ensure that the health of citizens would not be compromised as a result of the lack of water and electricity service at some enterprises.
Following a tour of all public health care institutions by officials divided into two teams, he said the visits were to ensure residents were in a safe environment and to assess the facilities’ state of readiness to serve the public following Saturday’s adverse weather. Inniss visited the Warrens, St Michael, Maurice Byer, St Peter and Gordon Cummins, St Thomas polyclinics, as well as the St Lucy District Hospital and the Elaine Scantlebury Home, Belleplaine, St Andrew.
Inniss said his tour revealed minor disruptions. He explained it was a case mainly of water seepage, but added that no equipment was damaged.
He said the roof over the storeroom at Elaine Scantlebury was blown off and this had been a concern because of the presence of  food items.
He said the absence of electricity meant the laundry there could not function.
“But the staff came out and decided to wash the linen by hand and they are to be commended.”
Inniss stated that the St Lucy District Hospital lost some galvanised sheets from the roof of one of the buildings, but added it should not cause any dislocation.
He said an old roof at Maurice Byer contributed to some flooding there, but provisions would be made in next year’s Estimates to rectify that problem.
“The staff came out today [yesterday] and they are ready to open tomorrow. But the Barbados Water Authority has indicated that it cannot provide adequate water to the polyclinic, hence it might have to remain close tomorrow [today],” he said.
He explained that the Ministry of Health had been making upgrades to all healthcare institutions to ensure that there were commodities such as stand-by generators as well as adequate back-up water supply.
He said in many cases the facilities were already in place but the ministry still needed to commission some  equipment.
“We have learnt some lessons from the storm in the sense of the need for us to continuously visit our disaster emergency plans and to look at our physical plants to see their state and where we have to do improvements. Government institutions, as they reflect on the storm, must learn these lessons . . . ,” he said.
Inniss added that with the increased rainfall his ministry would be taking further proactive measures to eradicate potential mosquito breeding sites. He however emphasised the important role the general public had to play in this process.
The health minister stressed that with several areas still without electricity, officers of the Environmental Health Department were already inspecting food establishments because the quality of food could not be compromised because of the circumstances occasioned by Tomas.