Saint Lucia: The Division of Environmental Health, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), hosted a port health workshop focused on strengthening port health regulations.
The workshop provided port health officers along with officers involved in border control with the opportunity to review the requirements of the new International Health Regulations (IHR) and to assess their roles at the ports of entry.
Chief Environmental Health Officer Parker Ragnanan spoke on the need for participants to learn the strategies used to strengthen the port health regulations in Saint Lucia.
“Not very often are we are able to meet with our partners and discuss matters of common and mutual interest. Not often do we get to share experiences and practices. As part of port security, all of our persons involved in border control must work together because we all have a common interest in the national health and security of the country,” he said.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Sharon Belmar-George reminded participants of the vital role they play at the ports and the need for agencies to work together to strengthen port surveillance.
“I encourage the team approach between agencies to ensure that the process is synergistic and effective as well as timely. I hope that with this training, the individual will be able to pinpoint the gaps so that we can work together to strengthen the ports.”
Temporary Technical Advisor of PAHO, Colin Browne, said the workshop grants the opportunity to identify the gaps at ports of entry and find ways to address them.
“One challenge is limited human resources from the Environmental Health Department. It needs to be strengthened as far as numbers are concerned. So this will give the stakeholders the opportunity to be aware of the issues and provide support in strengthening that capacity.”
The workshop focused on areas such as water safety guidelines, food safety at points of entry, solid and liquid waste, vector control guidelines and the transport of human remains, to name a few.