Health Ministry Studies the Environmental Impact of People Movement

Monday 01st, October 2012 / 08:59 Published by

Strengthening lab networks would reduce the percentage of Bahamians exposed to rapid epidemics in The Bahamas.

And, the Ministry of Health is concerned that early detection and control of harmful environmental chemicals can secure optimal health and guard against the impact brought on by the constant movement of people through tourism and immigration doorways.

To this end a National Strategic Plan Laboratory Workshop was held September 24-28 at the Ministry of Health Cafeteria with the view of forming strategies to continuously strengthen the National Laboratory system.

The mission is to promote the Lab Network to target the detection of non-commutable diseases, using existing platforms.

“Under the National Health Strategic Plan, the Lab system is now initiating the National Lab Strategic Plan to support the goals of the Health Strategic Plan,” said Dr. Indira Martin, manager of the HIV Reference Lab in Victoria Gardens and the Lab Strengthening manager at the Ministry of Health.

“There is the vision that they have that we support making sure that optimal health is reached by the people of The Bahamas, that we are well prepared for any event that might occur, and that it is a research driven culture,” said Dr. Martin.

She said further that the Ministry of Health is looking at the global context, the regional context, the reality of globalisation, the movement of people and the reality of people’s behaviours and how health can be impacted.

Dr. Martin said HIV,  Malaria, STIs, and TB, meaning Sexually Transmitted Infections and Tuberculosis, are very well funded activities across the board of health.

“So, given that the Bahamas Government, and the Ministry of Health have been getting a lot of money for these diseases, we’ve been able to build capacity with regard to equipment and infrastructure, based on those donations from international funding bodies.”

She said that these infections are well known epidemics, however the greatest epidemic is chronic, non-commutable diseases, which are lifestyle and environment related.  The epidemic funding provided already offers an opportunity to study how the constant movement of people within and throughout The Bahamas increases the frequency of epidemic events detected by Bahamian health organisations.

“Another issue we have to look at is cholera, which is a result of bad water.  We have the environmental health lab, we have infectious diseases surveillance, and we have the PMH lab and the HIV lab because cholera wouldn’t just come to the HIV lab and we are not just going to go out there and discover cholera,” said Dr. Martin.

“What would happen first of all is that someone would become sick with cholera, there would be a notification system, and then, there would be water testing by Water and Sewerage.  You could see this would be something that cuts across the board from one sector to the next basically across four to five ministries, seamlessly.”

Dr. Martin said the population is approximately about 360,000 people and on any given day in some seasons there could be about 750,000 people under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health’s epidemic scope.

By Gena Gibbs
Bahamas Information Services

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