JIS News

A key element in the increase in Jamaica’s tourism arrivals over the years, has been the high quality of the country’s public health system, which gives visitors to the island a comfortable feeling about their health and safety, said Dr. Rao Ponnada, Medical Officer of Health (MOH) with the St. James Public Health Services.
He was speaking at the St. James Public Health Services Conference 2005, held at the Wyndham Rose Hall Hotel in Montego Bay on August 31 under the theme: ‘Health and Tourism’.
He noted, that even during the SARS scare of 2003, the island experienced a seven per cent increase in passenger arrivals, while most other countries experienced a decrease in their tourism figures.Highlighting the effectiveness of the national surveillance system, Dr. Ponnada pointed out that the two malaria cases reported in the island in 2004 and two in 2005, were both imported cases, and were detected and treated before they could spread.
He said that in addition to examining public places, the St. James Public Health Department carried out health checks at hotels and other tourist-related facilities.
Dr. Ponnada explained that maintaining a healthy environment was not the sole responsibility of the St. James Public Health Department and the hotel operators must also ensure their properties were of a high health standard.
He advised that they must have regard for regulations, maintain high standards and strict adherence to quality control, notify the health department on time for monitoring and control of any health-related situation, do weekly hotel surveillance reports, prepare health packages for guests, send hotel nurses for ongoing training and meetings and promote regular health checks for staff.