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Pime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, has requested that an update on the progress of the modernisation of the National Public Health Laboratory be presented at the first sitting of Cabinet in January, with a view to having the process expedited. The National Public Health Lab is slated for Executive Agency status. The Prime Minister made the request in light of the unusually high number of blood samples that had to be sent to the National Public Health Lab for testing since the outbreak of malaria in several Kingston and St. Andrew communities.
Speaking at a meeting of the National Emergency Operations Centre at the Ministry of Health, today (Dec. 16), she said that the lessons that have been learnt from this emergency should help to inform the way forward for the health sector in Jamaica. “It also indicates how pivotal the health sector is to the economic, social and environmental development of this country,” she said, noting that in a world without borders, health care was faced with new challenges. The Prime Minister also instructed all relevant sectors and agencies to conduct an islandwide sanitation and clean-up exercise. She expressed confidence in the health workers and their ability to contain the spread of the disease. “I remain confident that we have the best and most committed health workers in the world. They have proven time and again that we can rely on them to maintain and improve the health status of this country,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister condemned reports of health workers being harassed in the affected communities, while carrying out activities to contain the outbreak of malaria.
“We need to give them our full support this time around, as they work to contain this disease,” she said.
Those in attendance at the meeting included the Minister of Health, Horace Dalley; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Grace Allen-Young, Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sheila Campbell-Forrester, and the Ministry’s Director of Emergency Operations, Dr. Marion Bullock-DuCasse.