The Government of St. Lucia recently sent three local health officials from the Health Ministry, to participate in an advanced training on Ebola, conducted in Cuba for Caribbean countries.
Health Minister Alvina Reynolds made this announcement recently. Reynolds said the group consisted of: Senior Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Belmar-George, Officer at the Bureau of Health Education Natasha Phillips and Environmental Health Officer Parker Ragunanan.
“Part of the training looked at the response we have. St. Lucia’s National Plan on Ebola will also be scrutinised by the team in Cuba. Our team will share experiences and practices with the other OECS territories and ALBA members,” she explained.
Following that training, the medical team from Cuba will travel to St. Lucia and other OECS countries, to conduct advance training with all teams, to strengthen capacity. After that the Cuban experts will be placed either in St. Lucia or Antigua, to help with any threat of Ebola in the region.
“The exposure with the other ALBA and OECS member states is what is important,” the minister emphasised. Reynolds said when the local team returns, further discussions will be held among health and security officials to share information and to step up the island’s response to any threat of Ebola.
Meanwhile, when asked to comment on the fear that locals have that Ebola could enter these shores, especially since the island is a major Caribbean tourism destination, Reynolds said the government is working hard to minimise these chances.
“Everyday we are stepping up our preparation. You cannot say that you are absolutely ready. Like you have seen in the presentation last week, we are now buying new protective gears and we are meeting constantly to discuss and strengthen our response,” she added.
Reynolds noted that acquiring the protective gear will be a costly exercise, but it must be procured for all local medical personnel who will be placed to work with Ebola teams. This she said will provide some protection to these health workers, if ever they have to deal with an Ebola patient.
In addition to that insurance for health workers is also being discussed. The ministry will also be placing several public announcements in the media shortly.
By Samuel Sukhnandan, St. Lucia News Online