The Ministry of Health and Wellness has developed a COVID-19 Recovery Plan, with the objective of establishing an adequate legal framework to support and enable the implementation of actions in response to the virus and other biohazard public health emergencies.
Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, made the announcement during his contribution to the 2020/21 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on July 7.
“The plan has moved from trying to keep COVID out to living with COVID. Times have to change because of the COVID experience. The protocols that have been established must be observed… and we have to exist in a different paradigm,” he said.
The plan is focused on multisectoral, multidisciplinary partnerships that allow for efficient alert and response systems for COVID-19 and other emergencies.
It seeks to increase the number of skilled and competent health personnel for sustainable and functional public health surveillance at all levels, strengthen laboratory systems to respond to the pandemic and other infectious diseases, as well as strengthen surveillance systems to detect events of significance for public health and health security.
Minister Tufton outlined specific actions under the plan, many of which are under way. These include a review of existing legislation to bring them into alignment with International Health Regulations (IHR) and the drafting of policies that support infection prevention and control measures in the home, community and at the workplace.
Other actions under the plan are the strategic and human resource review of the Health Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to increase capacity to respond to multiple and varied disasters and documentation of EOC procedures, and the creation of approximately 2,208 posts for community health aides (CHA).
The plan further includes an accelerated programme for contact tracing; the creation of 500 posts for public health inspectors and review of the organisational structure for medical officers of health in each parish with a view to enhance the capacity to respond to emergencies.
The development of a national laboratory policy, including a system of licensing and requirements for conformity to a national quality standard, is also to be undertaken.
The plan also addresses measures for the management of health risks at the airports and seaports.
This includes infrastructure work for isolation areas; procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE); and review and enhancement of protocols for the processing of arriving passengers to reflect infection prevention and control measures in response to COVID-19 and beyond.