Key Points from the Prime Minister’s Statement on Current Health Emergencies

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller provided details about the government’s plans to address the continuing spread of the chikungunya virus and the national emergency response and preparedness for Ebola during a meeting with government ministers, parliamentarians, and state agency representatives at Jamaica House yesterday.

We highlight the key points below.



On Chikungunya

  • The Prime Minister has assumed a lead role in mobilising the nation and national resources.
  • PM Simpson Miller activated the National Response Mechanism two weeks ago in an effort to channel more resources – both human and financial – to dealing with the chik v outbreak.
  • MPs, mayors and councillors have been active in encouraging their constituents to get rid of mosquito breeding sites.
  • $500 million in State resources has been allocated to address some critical areas of the national health emergency response. The objective is to reduce mosquito breeding sites starting with the worst affected areas as indicated by the mapping that has been done by the Ministry of Health.
  • The allocation is as follows:
    • $150 million to meet some critical emergency needs of the Ministry of Health
    • $70 million for Parish Councils – $5 million per parish
    • $126 million for activities led by Members of Parliament – $2 million per constituency
    • The remaining $154 million will be utilized for additional clean-up and vector control activities based on reports from the Ministry of Health in consultation with other stakeholders
  • An additional $131 million was already provided from the Consolidated Fund to the National Solid Waste Management Authority to deal with the backlog in the collection of garbage.
  • The programme of emergency clean-up is coordinated by a team involving: the Ministry of Health, ODPEM, the JDF, the JEEP Secretariat; the Ministry of Finance and Planning. Transport, Works and Housing Minister Omar Davies has line responsibility for clean-up exercises.
  • Minister Sandrea Falconer of the OPM is to chair the monitoring group and to report directly to Simpson Miller and the public on a regular basis.



The Ebola Response

  • Following several weeks of planning, extensive consultations, preparation, and detailed discussions with the senior team at the Ministry of Health, an integrated National Coordinating Team headed by that Ministry and the JDF has been formed to lead the country’s heightened preparations.
  • The country’s Emergency Response and Management Mechanism now being activated for the Ebola prevention and planning involving all emergency responders.
  • The government has made a request to one foreign government for assistance with our preparations and specifically, the training of our health care professionals.
  • A detailed action plan is being developed with a clear command structure. It will have details for various scenarios: what is to be done, by whom, when, and with what resources.
  • The government will continue to train and sensitize key stakeholders in the coming weeks including our:
    • Political representatives
    • All health workers and their associations in the public and private sectors
    • Trade unions
    • Immigration and Customs; other airport and seaport management and staff
    • Management and staff of all hospitals and health centres – private and public
    • Churches and other community-based organisations
    • The private sector
    • The Media
    • The JDF, JCF, ODPEM and the Fire Brigade
    • Funeral home operators
  • A robust National Communication Strategy and Programme is being developed and implemented through private and public sector collaboration.
  • The public education campaign will rely on proven methods of communication and social mobilisation including the use of mainstream and social media; community networks such as churches; the Social Development Commission, Parish Councils, MPs; engagement of trade unions and employers etc.
  • There has been an initial offer of assistance for funding and other resource mobilization from some private sector representatives, which has been accepted.
  • The training of health care professionals commenced in August and is to be increased. Immigration, Customs and other airport and seaport staff received training last Monday and Wednesday.
  • Surveillance at the ports of entry is being increased. Equipment such as hand held laser temperature machines are being acquired through emergency arrangements. Protective gear is in stock at the Ministry of Health with minimal numbers being deployed to health facilities and emergency response teams at the outset. Additional gear is available from local suppliers and emergency procurement arrangements are in place to access these supplies at short notice. Additional supplies are available overseas with arrangements in place for 24 hour delivery should they be needed.
  • Isolation rooms are being established at airports and hospitals. A central isolation facility equipped to treat possible Ebola patients has been identified, and is being equipped and staff trained.

Click here to read the Prime Minister’s full statement.

Are you satisfied with these plans? If not, what else would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.