JIS News

Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has received assurance from Chief Executive Officer of the Office of National Reconstruction Danville Walker that the verification of damage to houses resulting from the passage of Hurricane Ivan would be completed by Friday of this week. Mr. Walker gave the assurance on Wednesday (Nov. 17) at a meeting convened by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson at Jamaica House. At the meeting, Mr. Patterson received a status report from critical Ministries and agencies of Government on the effects of the hurricane.
Mr. Walker said once the process has been completed the ONR would continue the issuing cheques to beneficiaries by next week. He said the verification had enabled the ONR to reclassify persons who were incorrectly categorized and that this represents savings for the ONR.
He said the ONR Board had given approval for repair work to be carried out on approximately 250 schools across the island that were affected by the hurricane. Prime Minister Patterson stressed that it was important that schools whose repairs are to be undertaken by the ONR, the Jamaica Social Investment Fund or other agencies are properly identified, in order that the number of schools remaining could be ascertained.
Minister of Health John Junor who was also present at the meeting, revealed that the number of gastroenteritis cases has declined by 20 per cent and that the Ministry was continuing its islandwide vector control programme for mosquitoes, flies and rats.
Minister Junor said the Ministry of Health has already identified J$211 Million to meet its direct costs. Of this amount the disbursement of J$118 Million has been approved by the Board of the National Health Fund (NHF) to effect repairs to some of the islands hospitals. The Ministry is expected to submit another request to the Board for work to be done at the Bellevue Hospital and the Ken Royes Centre.
Prime Minister Patterson said the National Disaster Preparedness Committee would consider an evaluation of the response to Hurricane Ivan and implement the changes necessary to improve the response mechanism. He said the country would have to re-examine the use of schools as shelters with a view to phasing out this practice over a period of time.
He observed that the use of schools as shelters not only results in the need for significant repairs after a disaster, but that it also adversely affects the restart of the education process once the disaster has passed.
Mr. Patterson is expected to update Parliament on the response to Hurricane Ivan at its next sitting.

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