Mr Speaker I stand today at the cusp of a new phase of the implementation plan for the COVID-19 management for Jamaica. As you may recall the Ministry of Health and Wellness at the beginning of this experience outlined 4 phases for the plan.

Those being:
1. Inter-Pandemic Phase
2. Alert Phase
3. Epidemic phase
4. Recovery Phase

While the Ministry is very cognizant of the fact that the current state of the epidemic is still very fragile and adherence to the Infection Prevention Control measure are critical to the mission of management and control of the epidemic we must now begin the process of preparing the population to Live with COVID.

Living with COVID will represent many actions in the Public Health System. This “New Normal” in Public Health must be underpinned by three strategic goals being:

1. Protecting the population from harmful health outcomes particularly vulnerable communities;
2. Ensuring productive engagement of individuals within the society; and
3. Creating an environment where citizens can participate in meaningful social activities that enrich their lives and the lives of all with whom they interact.

Within this new strategic framework, the prioritization of public health and the reintroduction of a “everyone counts” approach to policy must form part of the way in which we must now live and operate. On our part, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has already began to build out an infrastructure that will allow us to play our role within the “New Normal”. This approach is anchored in the International Health Regulation standards for Public Health Systems and will involve the strengthening of systems in 8 areas:
1. Legislation and Policy
2. Coordination
3. Surveillance
4. Points of Entry
5. Laboratory
6. Human Resources
7. Health Facilities Prepared and Response
8. Risk Communication and Community Engagement

In each of these areas the Ministry of Health and Wellness will be working in collaboration with key stakeholders to achieve the strategic mandates that I have just outlined. Ensuring that everyone counts.

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