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TTC Special: New project on health in the Caribbean

TTC Special: New project on health in the Caribbean

Photo: 123rf

By F. Martin

TTC Service.- A project prepared by Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) seeks to improve health and safety of both local and visitor population.

CARPHA’s purpose is to draw together and build on public health knowledge and expertise across the Caribbean. Officials from the organization met in Castries, St Lucia last week with local representatives of the regional Ministries of Tourism and Health to discuss the project related to tourism industry.

A spokesman for Carpha described the draft as a tourism enhancement program which seeks to improve health and safety of both local and visitor population and focuses on strengthening current health surveillance systems with improved surveillance coverage and response time to health threats.

Dr. Lisa Indar, Head of CARPHA’s Tourism and Health Programme and Food Borne Diseases Surveillance Department said CARPHA would provide technical guidance to the country to meet the programme objectives. Indar said that “in terms of the impact, we hope that overall our health surveillance system is strengthened”.

The directive added that public health surveillance will be able to serve the region better in terms of how survey illnesses and how is the respond.

The head of CARPHA said to the St Lucia officials that for the tourism side, “you’re going to have a better tourism product that you are offering. You are going to have a healthier, safer destination, more quality assurance. So, it’s like a win, win situation”.

The perception of the region is that more tourists are asking for healthier safer destinations and in the UK over 91% of the tourists request that.

So if the tourism numbers increase by extension the local economy is going to be more sustainable, more people are going to be employed, Indar added.

The Ministry of Health estimated in a press release that the island may soon be added to the growing list of Caribbean countries already implementing the Regional Health and Tourism Programme. Among the added benefits of this programme will be increased information sharing.

Aviva St. Clair, Ag. Deputy Permanent Secretary in St Lucia Ministry of Tourism said the Tourism Ministry is very keen on the discussion held with CARPHA, particularly as it improves quality assurance within the sector.

St. Clair added that the Regional Health and Tourism Programme would improve St. Lucia’s standing as a destination with a strong reputation for high quality standards, accommodation, health and wellness and environmental health.

A theme linked to the improvement in the Caribbean of medical services is the health tourism.

According to statistics the globally health tourism generates US$35 billion a year; cosmetic surgery is worth US$7.5 billion alone as a business in the US; and the spa sector is growing by 9 per cent annually, compared to 6 per cent in the travel and tourism sector more generally.

Cuba has established, alongside its free healthcare facilities, a business that offers on a global basis all surgical procedures from the complex to the simple, but is constrained by the US Embargo and US regulations from offering such services in its nearest market.

In Jamaica, the island’s Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Investment, Industry and Commerce recently announced that they are jointly working.