Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says some 107 additional community health aides (CHAs) will be employed to assist in the continued fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in St. James.
“What we have done as a government is to hire an additional 1,000 community health aides. In this parish, we are slated to hire 107. My understanding is that we have already identified, vetted and approved about 70 plus. So, we still have more to hire,” he noted.
Dr. Tufton, who was speaking at a COVID-19 sensitisation session at the Norwood Basic School in Montego Bay on Friday (July 10), said the CHAs will boost the existing cadre of workers carrying out active field surveillance in the parish.
“Those persons are going to join the team of public health officers, public health inspectors, public health nurses and other CHAs… to keep in touch with the community,” he noted.
He said health workers while executing their duties must help citizens to understand their role in infection prevention and control.
“The charge here is that when you go into a community you must make friends with the people. You must hear their cry, concerns, you must share with them and help them to change their behaviour, if necessary, by recognising the coronavirus threat or any other public health threat for that matter, and give them good advice,” he noted.
Dr. Tufton said that some 200 temporary health workers have been employed in St James at the primary level to fight dengue and COVID-19 in the past six months.
The Health and Wellness Minister reiterated that the Government continues to take action to improve the country’s surveillance mechanism in order to better “monitor communities, institutions, and vulnerable groups across Jamaica against the coronavirus”.
He said, “While testing is important, surveillance and monitoring community behaviour, giving citizens information and helping them understand what they must do, providing information on behaviour to the health authorities so we can plan, are the important things that are going to allow us sustainable responses to coronavirus.”