JIS News

The third staging of the North East Regional Health Authority’s (NERHA) Research Conference was held recently in Ocho Rios, under the theme: ‘Forging Alliances through Environmental Research’.
The forum, which brought public health professionals together at the Christ Temple Evangelical Centre, allowed for the sharing of experiences, work and best practices in environmental health.
Regional Environment Health Officer at NERHA, Stephanie Fletcher, told JIS News that the conference was held because, “we recognise that research is an essential public health function and that this area needs to be strengthened, and, as such, we encourage our staff members to do research, not only as an academic exercise, but also to do research in the field.”
Focusing on the theme of the conference, Miss Fletcher noted that partnership was important in achieving the best results.
“We recognise that there are many determinants of health. Not all of the factors that determine health care fall under the portfolio of the environmental health or public health inspector. We realise that in order to achieve gains in health, to have sustainable public health interventions, we must forge alliances and collaborate with departments, agencies and other public health staff,” she said.
Miss Fletcher said she is encouraging public health practitioners to seek to apply what they grasped at the conference, to enhance public health care and to work towards achieving sustainable outcomes from public health care delivery.
Meanwhile, Regional Food Safety Co-ordinator, Karen Brown, told JIS News that the conference was interesting and informative.
“I have learnt from a number of topics that were presented, even though they were not directly related to my area of specialty. However, being aware of all the issues that confront us in public health, it has given me further impetus to do even more research,” she said, adding that she was encouraged to collaborate and implement programmes to ensure improvement in her field of work.
Chief Public Health Inspector for St. Ann, Granville McKenzie, said the conference was indeed timely.
“It is very good that our environmental health officers are carrying out research on various topics, such as hand washing compliance, obesity in children and vector control, among others. Research can guide in decision making. We are thinking about empirical data and so we have benefitted a whole lot from what was presented,” he told JIS News.
The NERHA is an agency of the Ministry of Health, and spans three parishes – St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland.

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