PRESS RELEASE – Following on from a presentation by officials from the Ministry of Health to a joint sitting of Parliament on Ministry of Health’s plans to prepare and manage the threat of the Ebola Virus Disease if or when it lands on St. Lucia’s shores, the Health Team met with Border Control and Security Personnel for a sensitization session on Ebola.
Nehum Jn Baptiste, National Epidemiologist was part of Ministry of Health’s Team, ” It’s very important that we share information especially sensitive information with respect to the travel history of persons. It’s also very important that we address the concerns of the staff from these special institutions.”
“This provides us with an opportunity for us to harmonize our efforts for us to try to re-engineer all our protocols to enable us not only to address the Ebola situation but in-case should we have any threat to international health.”
He said, “We are glad to see our Customs here, our immigration here, and all the other institutions which had a concern with respect to their safety. And hopefully after that meeting we can move on together to see how we can really strengthen our ports and protect our people.”
Vernon Francois, Commissioner of Police stressed on the importance and timeliness of the sensitization session. ” As you are aware the Ministry of Health would have met with a number of agencies Immigration, Customs, SLASPA, but as a group we have never really met together.
“So it’s very important for us to meet and share ideas because obviously it will have an impact on all of us whether personally or as a result of our work. So the discussion if very important and for us in the Police Department especially as it relates to our Immigration Department or Marine Unit or even officers who are generally involved in security or they may be called upon to perform some functions in that area.”
“So its a very important discussion the other law enforcement agencies too they are raising some critical points and I think the discussion is very healthy.”
Kennedy Francis, Chief of Port Police at SLASPA is also head of SLASPA’s Ebola Threat Management Team. ” The whole management of Ebola is supposed to be a national thrust so we need to make sure that there is no person left behind, everybody needs to be on board.”
“So having the opportunity to interact with the other Boarder Control Officers is very good for the process….At this stage we have allot of senior officers attending this but more importantly many times we go to those forums and we go back and we do not pass on the information. So it is very important that the officers on the ground, the lower level staff are informed of the discussions at this meeting.”
Ministry of Health Officials pointed out that meetings such as these are critical not only to provide pertinent information to key personnel but to formulate and harmonize protocols.